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 [Jesus,] the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world...  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  ~John 1:9-12

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come!  Let earth receive her king.” ~Joy to the World  

Dear Bethel Family,

One thing that sticks out to me about the Christmas story is how often God met people where they were at.  Mary was going about her normal life in Nazareth, perhaps just getting water at the well, when Gabriel the angel appeared to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus.  A few months later, the shepherds were out with their sheep in the night, likely during lambing season, when a whole troop of angels appeared to let them know about the nearby birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  The Magi were hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometers away at the time and God wrote them an invitation in the stars. 

If we look for it, we can see a pattern between Mary, the shepherds, and the Magi: God was reaching out to people exactly where they were at, even if they weren’t reaching out towards him.  The best example of that in Advent is when we remember that God himself stepped out of Heaven and into our reality as the Christchild and lived his whole life in order to restore our relationship with God and each other.

What does this Christmas look like for you?  Are you feeling the pressure for everything to be perfect, or at least look perfect, and then uncertainty when you realize things aren’t perfect?  Do we feel that way with God – that we feel we must ensure everything is perfect in order to welcome Him into our lives, and then stress out when we realize things aren’t quite what we’d like them to be? If so, I hope that you can be encouraged by the story of Advent.  It is not a story of Jesus being welcomed by perfection, but rather Jesus being willing to join us in the middle of our imperfection.  Jesus humbled himself to leave heaven and join us here on earth.  Are we willing to humble ourselves and receive him into the middle of our mess?

John 1 is a beautiful reminder that Christmas is the time that Christ came to us, that He joined us in our world.  In one strange but beautiful moment, we receive him – make space and time for him in our lives – and as we do he also receives us as Children of God.  Wherever you are at this year, I pray that you would take time to consider, or re-consider, what it means to receive Christ into your life.  What does it mean to welcome him into your mess, your imperfection, your brokenness?  And beyond that, what does it mean for Christ to have received you and I as Children of God?  I’m not entirely sure I understand it, but I’m extremely thankful to know that it is true.  Because of that, I can confidently say:

Merry Christmas, Bethel!

Pastor Jon  

Church Happenings

Here are some events that were hosted at Bethel in November:

Nov 5 - Young Life hosted a CLUE night for kids Gr 6-8.  Remember that game CLUE?  “Was it Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the candlestick?” The played it throughout the church with many Young Life volunteers dressed up as the CLUE characters.  The kids moved around in teams trying to solve the mystery.

Nov 6 – Men’s Group

Nov 14 – Kids HUB hosted a ‘Make Your Own Pizza” night for kids Gr 1-7

Nov 18 – Youth Night had a Fortnite.  They built forts with boxes etc.

Nov 21 – Memorial Sunday – we remembered those whom we have lost in the past 12 months

Nov 24 - Board and Committee meeting

Nov 1, 15, 29 – Alpha  

Men's Encouragement Group It’s been great to see men regularly coming out to this group!  The men’s group continues to meet the first Saturday of each month at 10am in the church lobby. It’s a time to share updates about your lives (mental health, faith, relationships, whatever people want to share about), encourage each other and pray. Open to men of all ages.  

Leadership Nominations Bethel has some Leadership positions opening up at the next AGM in February 2022. In November, we started the process of requesting nominations for these leadership positions on the Board of Elders and Deacon Committee. As well, we asked for volunteers for the various other committees at Bethel (Worship, Outreach, Education, Facility Management, and Finance. You will have received this request for your nominations in the mail in November. The requested deadline to have names submitted was December 8 and we will bring these names forward at the AGM.   

Past & Upcoming Sermons Date Topic

Nov 21 Memorial Sunday

Nov 28 1st Sunday of Advent – Hope.  Receiving Christ with Faith

Dec 5 2nd Sunday of Advent – Peace.  Receiving Christ with Time

Dec 12 3rd Sunday of Advent – Joy.  Receiving Christ with Worship

Dec 19 4th Sunday of Advent – Love.  Receiving Christ with Response

Dec 24 Christmas Eve 5pm– Receiving Christ Himself Dec 26 Reflecting on Christmas  

We mourn the loss of Greg Zibin – November 16, 2021     

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” ~2 Corinthians 1:2-3

Dear Bethel Family,  

It is with deep sadness that I write to you.  At 10 AM today, Tuesday, November 16th, Greg Zibin suddenly passed away in the Surrey Hospital with his wife Jessica and sister Aleena by his side.  Over the past two weeks, Greg had been experiencing serious seizures and the doctors worked hard to find both a cause and treatment, without success.  Whatever it was took a significant toll on his body and Greg went home to be with Jesus.

I often think of Psalm 23 in times like this, of how Jesus walks with us in our need, in our vulnerability, and even when death is so incredibly close.   Psalm 23 reminds us of the “with-ness” of Jesus.  In the coming days and weeks, I pray that the “with-ness” of Jesus would be persistent and evident in each of our lives. 

Please be in prayer for Jessica, Eddie, and Natasha, as well as the rest of the family, as they walk this journey of grief.  It is also important that we look for the ways we can bring comfort to each other as a church as we mourn Greg’s loss.  Reach out to each other, pray for and with each other, share memories of Greg, and look for ways to remind each other of God’s presence in the midst of mourning.  If you would like prayer, you can also contact the church office and Pastor Jon would be happy to pray with you.  

There will be a service for Greg in early 2022. We will send out more information once we have it.   In Christ,  Pastor Jon   

How you can help the Zibins - Many of you have reached out to see how to support Jessica, Eddie, and Natasha Zibin as they are mourning the loss of Greg.  Thank you for wanting to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this time!  There are a few ways we can show our love and support for them:

1.      Continue to pray for them but love them “from a distance.”  While expressions of love are deeply appreciated and very meaningful, it can be overwhelming to respond to all the phone calls, texts, e-mails, and visits while also processing their grief.  Please continue to pray for peace, grace, and comfort for the Zibin family, but hold off on reaching out to them for a few days to give them “loving space.” 

2.      Yard work: Greg's father and one other person finished all the yard work for Jessica.  Currently, there are no other requests for physical help. Jessica is very grateful for all the donations toward a Skip the Dishes gift card (see #3 below). 

3.      Thank you to everyone who dropped off a meal!  The Zibins have deeply appreciated the meals that were given and are still well supplied with several in the freezer.  Another thing that would be helpful is a Skip the Dishes gift card.  If you would like to contribute towards a Skip the Dishes gift card, we will be collecting money in the next few days and would love to bless the Zibins with a generous gift.  If you would like to contribute towards this, you can give money however you normally donate (online, e-transfer, cash, cheque) and just indicate in the message/note/memo line that the money is for the Zibins.  

The service for Greg will be held in the new year.  This way, it won't have to be associated with Christmas each year.    

Help with BC Flood Relief - What can we do? The rains this week are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and many I’ve spoken with are saying the same thing.  It is good when our hearts are moved to respond when a tragedy like this happens, and so here are a few ways we can help show Christ’s love for those impacted by the floods:   

1.      Prayer.  It is no small thing when we ask God to intervene on behalf of those stranded, suffering, or experiencing uncertainty around their future.  Please be in prayer for those affected as often as they come to mind.

2.       Donate money through the Salvation Army - Abbotsford.  The Kingdom of God is larger than one church or one denomination and we want to support what God is doing through them in this time.  Here are the ways you can donate to the Salvation Army:

  > Mail a cheque payable to The Salvation Army, 34081 Gladys Avenue, Abbotsford, BC V2S 2E8. Write “Flood Relief” on the memo line.

  > Pay by Visa or Mastercard in person at the Centre of Hope or by phone, 604-852-9305, or in person.

Thank you for wanting to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we seek to make a difference in the face of so much suffering and loss.   

Jacob Tilitzky, former Pastor of Bethel Church, passed away OCTOBER 21, 1925 – NOVEMBER 9, 2021 Some may remember Pastor Jacob from when he was the interim pastor here at Bethel Church in the 1990s. He passed away in Abbotsford, at the age of 96, on November 9,2021. Service details, fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.woodlawnfh-abbotsford.com for the Tilitzky family.  

Baptism – Tay Ettenberg It is with great joy that we welcome Tay into the family of Christ.  Tay was baptized by Aleah Scanlan (Tay’s youth leader) and Pastor Jon on Sunday, December 5th, 2021. You can listen to Tay’s testimony in the Dec 5th service on the Bethel website.  

Prayer Requests

-  Please pray for Emma Janzen who is in the hospital again and is quite frail. According to her daughter,  Emma always appreciates visitors. She is in room 408, bed three, by the window. Langley Memorial.  [Dec14]

-  Pastor Sergio has asked Bethel to pray that more students will register for the bible college that Sergio and Martha lead.  

- Please pray for Cindy, an acquaintance of Kim Massa, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Please pray for healing and that Cindy would believe in Jesus. 

- Please continue to pray for Leni Epp, and if you wish, she is able to take calls.