From the Pastor
God’s Vision for Us in a New Year
Happy New Year! At this start of a new year, we give thanks to God who is both our “help in ages past” and our “hope for years to come” (Lutheran Service Book, 733). January begins a new season in the church year called “Epiphany.” It’s a time to be guided by God’s revelation of His kingdom rule through Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, while beginning a new year together at RLC. However, even as we begin Epiphany, I’m reminded of the Psalmist’s words encouraging us to take note of the seasons and the passage of time as we turn another page on the calendar. In so doing, we seek God’s wisdom and gift of steadfast love for us and one another today.
There is a special Sunday observance, often marked in January, that I’ve discovered recently called “Vision Sunday.” Maybe you’ve heard of it? “Vision Sunday” is not a time to talk about a congregation’s mission statement or long-term plan for ministry. Rather, it highlights what is important in the life of the congregation at that moment in time. The goal is for folks to identify a theme or a “handle” for church life that gets the various people and ministry teams of the faith community moving together. The vision for our life together in 2023-2024, first emerging in your responses to the congregational survey we administered almost one year ago and then presented at our Voters’ meeting in June 2023, concerned Christian relationships. It was summed up in the 7th RLC “Value” on our church website: “We are a community of believers gathered by the Spirit to live out our faith with one another.” As an outcome of this focus on Christian fellowship, we were privileged to gather again this past year in our regular, weekly Wednesday Night Workshop dinners and small groups. We have seen more and more of you in 2023 worshipping in person. And as time goes on, the opportunity to make new connections and renew familiar ones has been a blessing for our church family! I give thanks to God for all in our congregation who have embraced this vision and been led by God to live it out.
January 2024 will give us the chance to grow further in the calling to be a community of believers gathered by the Spirit to live out our faith together. On January 3, we will resume our Wednesday Night Workshop evenings with dinners, musical ensemble rehearsals, and gatherings around God’s Word for everyone: children through adults. Newcomers to our church will gather for a Welcome Brunch on January 13 and receive the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of our Christian faith/Lutheran heritage on subsequent Saturdays extending into February. Throughout January, God’s vision for us to live out the gift we share together in Holy Baptism as His renewed people will take center stage in the worship life of our congregation. We will be reading and thinking about passages from the weekly Gospel readings that record Jesus healing, calling, and sending the people around Him for the work of God. It is exciting to consider how, in your baptism and mine, God’s vision is to do just that with all of us.
Whether the new year finds you looking back and giving thanks for many events in 2023… or looking ahead, longing for a time of renewal in 2024…we give thanks this month that our God is our guard while troubles last AND our eternal home. Our ministry focus will change from one year to the next. God’s loving-kindness and care for us never does!
A blessed 2024 to you!