HeronBridge Community Church December Newsletter
                                                                                                11 December 2018

From Nick's desk

Christmas is nearly here...again!

As 2018 draws to a close we are probably all feeling the effects of having survived another year. For some it's been a better year than for others, but it seems that generally,
people have had a hard year. It feels as if the pace of life here in Johannesburg just gets more frenetic with every passing year and busyness is the norm, with many of us running to stand still.

Meanwhile, the economy is struggling, unemployment is on the rise and on an almost daily basis we hear of another case of massive corruption, state capture or blatant incompetence and mismanagement on the part of our government. Some politicians are sowing racial division and enmity. One just has to read the comments on social media posts to see how deep the division, distrust and in some instances, hatred, runs in our society. Land expropriation without compensation is a hot button topic that triggers immediate and intense reaction from all quarters. Bad news abounds. Fake news is becoming the new normal.

In the midst of the chaos of the world, these words from Psalm 121 are so encouraging: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth...The LORD watches over you - the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night..."

Christmas is coming. "Advent" comes from the Latin word "adventus" which means "arrival". This month we celebrate the arrival of a baby in Bethlehem 2000 years ago who was the saviour of the world. As we look back at the manger, let us also look forward to his next arrival when he will come, not as a humble, weak and defenceless little baby, born to a peasant couple, but as the mighty conquering King, to establish his kingdom here on earth.

As followers of Christ, let us remind one another that even though we are in this world, we are not of it. Let us encourage one another to lift our eyes from the ever-present troubles around us and look to the One who is our help and our hope. As we shift our focus away from ourselves and towards that cradle in a manger, may we experience afresh the love, peace, joy and hope that He exemplifies and embodies.

Whether you've had a good or bad year, my prayer is that 2019 will be a better year than 2018 was. May you draw close to God this Christmas and may you experience His joy and the peace in this season and into the new year.

With love in Christ.
A great suggestion to get into the advent season and to prepare your heart to truly appreciate and enjoy Christmas, is to read a daily devotional that takes you, step-by-step on a journey to the cradle. Here is an amazing resource from Biola University:
Once you're on this site, you will have the option to have the devotional sent directly to your inbox every day. I really encourage you to read this daily devotional, and truly experience the wonder of Christmas.
Everyone hard at work at our Ilima School build in October.
Since I last sent out our last newsletter in October, much has happened in the life of our church!
  • We had our "Invest and Invite" Sunday on 7 October and it was great to see many new faces at church that day. The deacons and other helpers did a great job in setting up and providing food and there was a lovely vibe as we gathered afterwards for a time of food and fellowship. Well done on inviting your non-believer friends and family. Let's keep inviting these folks to our church and let them experience the love and joy of Christ in and through us. 
  • The 13th of October saw a huge turnout at Ilima School, where we dug and planted, drilled and nailed, put up shelving, sewed curtains and hung shade netting. It was hard work, but lots of fun. It was really heartwarming to see so may people coming together to offer practical help within our community. 
  • We had an amazing baby dedication service on 21 October. It was such a joy to celebrate these new little lives. It is always a very special time in the life of the church to focus on God's goodness through the gift of children. 
  • The Alpha weekend away happened at the end of October and the course itself came to an end in mid-November. I know that God has done, and is continuing to do, a great work in people's hearts through the Alpha course. Thanks to all those who were involved.
  • The four Sundays of November saw us covering the Book of Ruth in a mini-series called "Radical Love". I thoroughly enjoyed working through this remarkable little story and seeing God's hand in the mundane and oftentimes hard aspects of ordinary lives. We are all heroes of the faith because God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.
  • November felt a bit disjointed with the 94.7 Cycle Race messing up our regular Sunday rhythms. Will will definitely bear this in mind as we plan for next year. 
  • We did a "build" at Maureen's school, Bambi Day Care, in Diepsloot on 17 November. It was a big job that required parts of the roof being removed and replaced and new roof beams installed. A big thank you goes out to Paul and his team of builders who did the technical stuff.
  • The end of November saw us baptising 5 of our congregation members in the HeronBridge pool. It was a very special time, followed by the kids' annual Pool Party. 
  • Our Christmas Carol service on 2 December was stunning beyond words. I know that sounds kind of boastful and exaggerated, but it really was amazing. As a church, we are incredibly blessed by the depth of musical ability and skill that we have in our music team. Lané and her team put in many of hours of practice and did a great job. Well done guys! 
  • It is with heavy hearts that we say "farewell" to Carl Jankowitz and his family. Carl has faithfully and diligently served as a deacon of the church for many years. The Jankowitz's are relocating to Stellenbosch and we wish them every blessing as they move down there.
  • Farewell also to Keegan and Justine. These guys are a power couple and they have been absolute legends in the life of our church. I am gong to miss their friendship and help immensely and am very sad to see them go. I am also excited for them, however, as they embark on an amazing adventure in response to God's call to go to Thailand for 1 year. Please remember them in your prayers as they step out across language and cultural barriers to be part of God's work in another part of his vineyard. They leave SA at the end of January and we will have a formal farewell for them in church next month.
  • Congratulations to Wayne Milligan who has been appointed as a deacon. Wayne is no stranger to us and he and Jo are very active in the life of our church. For all intents and purposes, Wayne has already been serving as a deacon, we have merely formalised and confirmed that office. 
  • Congratulations also to Trish who has been appointed to take over from Justine as the Church Administrator (and Children's Church Coordinator and my PA). I look forward to working with her in the new year. 
We had a great vibe at our "Invest and Invite" Sunday.
Looking ahead:
  • We started our Advent series this past with the theme of "Love". Going forward we will look at "Peace" (Keegan on the 16th), "Joy" (Janique on the 23rd) and "Hope" (myself on the 25th). I realise many people are away, but if you are in town over this time please join us.
  • Our Christmas day service will be at 8a.m. and we will not have a service on the 30th. We will start the year on Sunday 6 January 2019. 
  • For the month of January, starting on Sunday 13th, we will go "Back to Basics" as we focus on and drill down into our vision, mission and values. 
I have had an incredible 8 months at HCC! Thank you again for the love, support, encouragement, commitment and collaboration, as together, we have served our Lord and God. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us in 2019!

As you go into this Christmas season, I pray God's richest blessings on you. May you know his peace as you celebrate his birth.

Warm regards,
Nick Bekker
Christmas Season!
Please join us for prayer before the service every Sunday. We meet in the Staff Room at 8:30a.m.
If you need prayer, please join us in the back corner of the Acacia Hall after the service on Sunday - there is always someone ready to pray for you.

We want to say a big THANK YOU to all our servers! Church would not be the same without all the hands that make Sunday's happen - from kids and teenagers, flowers, set up, worship, tech, to prayer, care and counselling! Thank you for making HeronBridge such a beautiful Community Church! #thisischurch

If you would like to join a serving team for 2019, please get in touch. We would love to add you to the team!

In Case You Missed It!

25 November 2018 - RADICAL LOVE (PT 4) - "FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH" - Nick Bekker

18 November 2018 - RADICAL LOVE (PT 3) - "GUARDIAN-REDEEMER"    - Keegan Brady

11 November 2018 - RADICAL LOVE (PT 2) - "REFUGE UNDER GOD'S WINGS - Nick Bekker

4 November 2018 - RADICAL LOVE (PT 1) - 'SHATTERED DREAMS' - Nick Bekker

28 October 2018 - HOW TO KNOW GOD'S WILL - William Colledge

21 October 2018 - SIMEON SEES THE BABY (and baby dedication service) -     Nick Bekker

14 October 2018 - JOY IN SUFFERING - Keegan Brady

7 October 2018 - SATISFACTION GUARANTEED - Nick Bekker
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