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“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5. Hardly a year has gone by in my ministry when someone does not say, “Christmas isn’t going to be joyful for me this year.”. Or some variation of that sentiment. Some years it is difficult to work up the excitement or joy of the season. Circumstances in our lives where we are struggling, or grieving, or exhausted. The daily concerns do not magically disappear during December. If anything they become magnified because the expectation is that this is the season of joy.
And yet, as the verse from John testifies, Jesus did not come into the world with great joy and fanfare. He came into the world in a strange place, a place of darkness – the same darkness that exists today – people who struggle each day to live, those who are grieving or fearful. Those who are seeking refuge from the storms of the world. Jesus came because there is darkness in the world. He came to bring light – a light the darkness cannot overcome. Christ came precisely because of whatever we are going through in our lives.
On Friday, December 21st at 7 pm we will be having our Longest Night Service. This is a reflective, contemplative service, a quiet place in the midst of the Christmas noise. We do this on the Longest Night of the year as a reminder that no matter how long the darkness, the light will come. I hope you will join us, if only a respite from the mad rush of the holidays. Here you may find peace for your souls.
Grace and Peace,
“Make Your Presence(ts) Count!:” This is the theme of our Stewardship Season this year. We hope you have been taking time to prayerfully consider all the ways your presents and your presence count in our community of faith and its ministries. We have heard in worship how the presence of our facility enables all kinds of hope, healing and well-being happen throughout the week through those who use our building. The Mission Committee has shared how our efforts and our dollars have supported mission coworkers, provided animals to farmers through Heifer., school supplies here locally, scholarships here and in other countries, and many other ways we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ. Our Treasurer has shared how your regular gifts keep these and many other ministries vital and growing. Our ministry fairs in the spring and fall have given you a taste for how your presence counts in an number of ways.
We are saved by grace through faith. Our life as disciples is motivated by gratitude for that grace and our love of Jesus Christ. Our discipleship is lifelong, for our Savior always presents us with opportunities to make our presents and our presence count. What we do counts – it saves lives, gives hope, shares love and joy.
We are blessed to be a part of a community of generous hearts – generous with resources and generous with their time and energy. It is contagious – we are energized by what happens around us, we want to be as part of it. And we are encouraged by our gifts and actions, knowing the Jesus Christ is at work in and through us to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
As your pastor, it is my privilege to serve Christ with you. Each of you inspire me in my own discipleship, and make me want to be a more faithful follower of Jesus. Thank you for your growing commitment to Jesus Christ in the stewardship of your life and resources. Together we do make our presence*(ts) count!
Last month, I wrote about our fulfilling our baptismal promise to our children , to guide and nurture them in the way of Jesus Christ. I’ve been giving this some thought, and how really this is a lifelong commitment. We make this promise and it is open ended. Which raises for me the question of how do we guide God’s children in the way of Jesus Christ in all phases of their life? How do we encourage people of all ages to be faithful members of Christ’s church (not just a local congregation)?
This is more challenging with adults, for with children and youth we are partnering with parents in this. But our faith journey is a lifelong one and as adults perhaps we need to see this as a process of mutual support and encouragement. By praying for one another, loving one another, and encouraging one another spiritually, we are fulfilling a promise that was made decades ago.
How might the church help guide and nurture you in the way of Jesus Christ, to be a faithful member of His church? I’d be interested in hearing from you, speaking for yourself, In this way we become a more faithful church congregation.
Serving Christ with you,
“Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide an nurture this child by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of his church?” from the liturgy for baptism, The Book of Common Worship.
With youth group starting up again this fall, and our families coming back from vacation, I have been reflecting on this question. Each time a child is baptized, this question is posed to us. And when we answer, we answer not just for this congregation, but for the church of Jesus Christ. This means that any baptized child/youth who is part of our faith community – whether or not we baptized them- is to receive the fruit of this sacramental promise we make.
How do we fulfill this promise? Certainly by educating, in Sunday School, VBS, and other forums for our younger disciples. But the question goes further – we promise to guide and nurture this child by word and deed, love and prayer. How do our interactions and example guide our younger disciples? Do we include them in conversations at fellowship? Do we sit by them intentionally in worship? Do we make an effort to learn their names and befriend them as we do our adult friends? How do we love them? Or perhaps a better way to think of this is how do we share the love of Jesus with them? These are ongoing questions/challenges for me.
I invite you to join me in reflecting on our living out of our baptismal promises, praying that we will be faithful in carrying out this sacrament.
Serving Christ with you,