September 10th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
The Council of Elders had a virtual meeting this past Wednesday and reported that Festival plans have been a major challenge this year. At this moment, we have 104 sites planned, so that as many members as possible can attend in person, but this is a fluid situation as government and venue regulations are constantly changing. Our office in the United Kingdom reports a record number of literature items were sent out in August. This pattern of record setting is being seen at many of our Regional Offices around the world, and we heard reports of new individuals contacting the Church, including some coming from other COGs and others who left over the years are now coming back. We spent three hours on Tuesday reviewing Festival speaking schedules for the United States and a few international areas. While the coronavirus and the U.S. Presidential election garner a lot of attention, major events are occurring around the world. Europe is being forced to make major decisions as to where it is heading, record fires are burning up the U.S. West Coast region, and economic turmoil is on the horizon. Be sure to pray about the Feast arrangements and for one another, as some of our members are going through severe trials.—Gerald Weston
If you haven’t checked out our lcgeducation.org webpage recently, take a moment to check out the latest posts. Among the recent posts is an interesting graphic showing the results of our poll from the unit on prayer. We asked the question, “What is the biggest challenge you face in maintaining regular, consistent prayer?” More than 400 people were willing to share their answers, giving us a helpful look at the challenges that we all face. A second post features responses from many of you in answer to the simple question, “Why do you pray?” While you’re on the Living Education site, don’t miss the latest post in Mr. Ken Frank’s “Digging Deeper” column. His post for this week is titled “Every Word of God Is Pure.” These are encouraging words for a discouraged world!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Health and Feast Travel
With the Feast only a few weeks away, and as we prepare to depart for the Feast of Tabernacles, it is not uncommon for a lot of us to push ourselves and compromise on our sleep and diet. Often, this push before the Feast results in too little sleep and unhealthy eating habits, which can lead to getting sick at the Feast. It is essential, as we prepare for Feast of Tabernacles travel, to get adequate rest and maintain a healthy diet filled with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Parents should make sure that children also get adequate rest and eat a very healthy diet before the Feast. For our older brethren, these actions are imperative! This year especially, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should exercise great care as we prepare for the Feast.
Opening Night Service
The Feast begins at sunset on Friday, October 2 and there will be an Opening Night service that evening. Brethren are encouraged to make every effort to arrive at their Feast site in plenty of time to attend this “kick-off” meeting at the beginning of the first day of the Feast, which is a High Holy Day. There will also be a special video welcome from Mr. Weston during this service. Check with your Feast Coordinator for the time of the Opening Night service at your site.
COVID-19 Feast Policy Reminder
Brethren are reminded to review the COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines prior to departing for the Feast of Tabernacles. You can find the guidelines by going to lcg.org, scrolling down to the bottom of the page, clicking on “Feast of Tabernacles,” and then clicking on the “COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines” link. The Guidelines cover such topics as (1) Government and venue regulations, (2) Face Coverings and Social Distancing, (3) Hymns, (4) Illness at the Feast, and (5) Screening. All brethren are also required to go through the mandatory “Self Screening Questionnaire” on the same page as the COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines.
Take a Thermometer Along with You to the Feast
All brethren are encouraged to take a thermometer along to the Feast, and self-check temperatures of themselves and their family members each day before attending services. If you have an elevated temperature above 100.4 degrees, you should not attend services, but stay back at your housing and view the service on livestream. Elders will be on call to provide anointing.
Activity Payment Deadlines—Repeat Announcement
If you are attending a Feast site where there will be paid activities, please note carefully the instructions—including the deadlines and methods of payment—given by your Feast Site Coordinator. He will be getting in touch with you by email, or you can find the information on the website for each site (check www.lcg.org for more information).
Streaming/Phone Connections for Shut-Ins—Repeat Announcement
If you will have to stay home from the Feast for health reasons, please note our Feast sites will be providing livestream or phone connection services for the areas assigned to that Feast site. In this way, you can listen to or watch a live service at your assigned Feast site even if you have to stay home, and you can feel more connected to what’s going on at the Feast! For more information on what’s available at your site, please contact the Festival Site Coordinator at your assigned Feast site. If you need help, please contact your congregation’s Festival Advisor.
We have begun sending out speaking schedules. For those who will be delivering sermonettes or sermons at the Feast, please send the title(s) of your message(s) to your Feast Site Coordinator by Sunday, September 20.
The Fall Holy Days: Over the next several weeks, we will observe the Fall Holy days that picture the culminating events in God’s Great Plan of Salvation for mankind. These days reveal how God is going to put an end to the evils and the deception and the suffering in this world by sending Jesus Christ to banish Satan and set up the Kingdom of God on this earth, where the saints will reign with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years—after which, all who have ever lived and died without knowing God’s Plan will have the opportunity to learn God’s Way of Life. While the world has been blinded to the real meaning of the Fall Holy Days, we need to remember that Jesus told His disciples, “blessed are your eyes for they see… because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:11–17). As we observe the Fall Holy Days, let’s rejoice and be deeply grateful for the incredible privilege we have been given to understand and prepare to participate in the fulfillment of these “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:2–4).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 10, 2020
“Italexit” Grows in Popularity: As the date for a “hard Brexit” approaches, divisions among the nations of Europe continue to grow, as does the desire of some of them to leave the European Union. In Italy, the new “Italexit” Party began in July—inspired by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the UK, with the hope of a similar result.
Euronews reported on August 10 the results of a poll on the issue: “Of the EU’s ‘Big Four’ [Germany, France, Spain, and Italy], respondents in Italy were the most in favour of leaving the EU in five years’ time if Brexit is seen to be benefiting the UK, with 45 per cent either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the idea of an ‘Italexit.’” More than a third of the citizens polled in France and Spain responded with similar sentiments. Germans were the least likely to respond this way, although 30 percent did. In addition, nearly half of French and Spanish citizens in the study felt that Britain would financially prosper outside of the EU.
While Italy may not actually exit the EU, discontent with Europe’s current state of affairs appears to be growing. The EU’s internal division mirrors the end-time Bible prophecies found in Daniel 2:40–45, describing a world power symbolized as a mixture of iron and clay. Other prophecies speak of the emergence of a strong leader with a powerful, unifying vision, who is backed by an influential religious figure (Revelation 13; 17:1–13). Events in Europe appear to be moving toward a climax that was recorded many centuries ago in the pages of the Bible. To understand the prophetic significance of Europe’s current and future actions, be sure to read or listen to “The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?
Children, Nature, and IQ: A new study of more than 600 children, conducted by a university in Belgium, found that the more exposure children have to “green spaces,” the higher their IQ (Euronews.com, August 24, 2020). Researchers discovered “that a three per cent increase in the greenness of a child’s neighbourhood raised their IQ score by 2.6 points on average.”
The researchers also looked at children across all socioeconomic levels (education and income) and found that, no matter their background, their IQs rose as they had more exposure to green spaces with bushes and trees. That means “that the relationship between nature and cognitive development is not solely related to the child’s upbringing and financial status.” While the researchers still do not understand all the mechanisms behind their findings, they speculate that “children who live in greener spaces have lower stress levels, experience less noise pollution and have more opportunities for social play.”
Regardless of the reasons behind the findings, these modern researchers have apparently stumbled across something God has understood for a long time. In the beginning, God placed the first family, not in a desert or a city, but in a garden (Genesis 2:8–9). Bible prophecies about God’s coming Kingdom on the earth make clear that people will live on their own land and be able to sit under their own trees (Micah 4:2–4). This will be a time when springs pour forth from the desert, making it lush and causing it to blossom “as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). When Jesus begins His reign on earth, He will initiate many changes that will positively impact child development and IQ—and adding green spaces will be one of them! To learn more about this awesome future time, read or listen to The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater