First Sunday After Advent and New Year: Reflections and Thankfulness

Our speaker this morning encouraged us to love sacrificially and to learn from others. It was a short, but needful sermon as we enter a new year. These are both difficult and precious applications to our Christain lives in this New Year.

God has been faithful in providing a gracious church family in these last 18 months. We have learned and come to love that body of believers. They have taught us so much by their Christian maturity and consistent words of encouragement.

This year God has persevered me through some difficult times in seminary. It was through the prayers of many in church and family members that sustained me through those hard months. In my three years of seminary I have come to see the faithfulness of God in very personal ways.  God is indeed a covenant faithful God.

The year 2007 will bring about many challenges and new circumstances that will require me to trust even more in God’s mercy. But it is the past experiences of His faithfulness and the authority of His word, that strengthens me for the year ahead.

Doug Philips writes that:

Life moves fast. If we don’t take the time to chronicle the providences of God, we forget them. If we don’t take the time to say thank you to those who have invested in our lives, we actually cultivate a spirit of ingratitude in our own hearts.

I want to take a few paragraphs to personally thank those who have invested their time, money, and prayers in my family’s life.

I. I praise my God once more for saving me when He had no reason to do so. As a result my mind, heart, and soul have all been transformed and I now see the world with new eyes. I will be forever grateful to my God.
II. My lovely wife has been patient with my stubborness and many long hours of studying. I want to thank her for her faithfulness in supporting me through these last years in seminary. Her joy and optimism has given me hope and strength to carry on.
III. I want to thank my elders, who have been patient with this young seminarian and have given me a chance to lead in several ways the worship of God’s people. These years have been tremendously helpful in shaping me as a future minister of the gospel.
IV. For my former pastor, and always my mentor and friend, who has taught me so much in the areas of theology, polity, marriage, and just general day-to-day church situations that always arise; for his kind and gentle teaching spirit I am deeply grateful.
V. To my seminary professors who have shaped my thinking in so many ways, I am thankful and honored to sit under their teaching.

Thank you Dr. Kistemaker (Dr. K) for always having your door open to talk about anything. You have been a dear friend. I have truly benefited from your commentaries. Thank you again for the two commentaries you have given me translated into portuguese.
Thank you Dr. Hill for this semester in Greek. It was the most difficult in my life, but I have learned much from it. Thank you for your patience and encouragement in the latter part of the semester when I was truly discouraged.
Thank you Richard Pratt for your unwavering commitment to truth. You have challenged me in so many ways and I will be always thankful for the conversations we had in and out of class.
Thank you Professor Frame for shaping my thinking in almost every area I can imagine. Your ecumenical spirit and desire for catholicity has led me to reconsider my attitude towards those who I do not agree with, and furthermore, has led me to learn from them.
Thank you Dr. Frank James for your strong faith in a great God through the loss of your brother Kelly. You have always been pasionate about the History of the Church and you have always reminded us that the history of the church is filled with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Thank you for teaching us that we are great sinners, who have a great God.
VI. To my home church, Holy Trinity Presbyterian, I am deeply grateful for their support in these last three years. Without your kind support I would not be where I am today. God placed you in my life when I needed to be fed spiritually and God has continually placed you in my life since I’ve left. Only eternity will express your commitment and faithfulness in supporting this young man.

And to all that I may have forgotten ( I am sure you know who you are) thank you for investing your life in mine. May God be your great reward.

Grace and Peace to you and your family in this year to come.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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