Grateful. I am grateful. As I look back on the year we have shared I can hardly express how thankful I am. We have been together through many good things, some difficult and challenging experiences, and even some great ones. It has been a year of transitions, saying goodbye to long-time friends – and welcoming new persons into our lives as well. We broke ground and completed the first phase of a campus renewal project that has been years in the making. We celebrated births and baptisms, weddings and anniversaries. We shared a generous mission with the wider world around us, from local food and shelter efforts to international relief. Our youth took part in hands-on mission
through Sierra Service Project, as well as with numerous other Faith in Action events through the year. Whether it was lending a hand with Habitat for Humanity or stepping up to support the Imagine No Malaria campaign, you have been generous and faithful. So I am grateful. And I want to be sure you know that.
Your encouragement is global, but it is also close and personal. I receive notes in my box from friends who want me to know that they care, and have been praying for my strength and health through busy seasons. You are gracious with email and notes as well, reminding me how much the life of our church means to you and those you love. It is both deeply humbling and very encouraging to get to lead worship, to preach, with a congregation that cares so much about what we say and do when we are together. Some preachers have never experienced what that feels like, and I’m telling you it is powerful.
The new year begins with words of encouragement as well. This next Sunday we will celebrate the Epiphany, marking the arrival of the Wise Men on their journey to see the baby Jesus. Their presence in Bethlehem is a sign that this gift of new life and hope is not for one community only, but for the whole world. The second Sunday of the month celebrates the baptism of Jesus, and the beginning of his active ministry. At
the services that day we will invite the congregation to share in the renewal of baptism for all of us, as we move into a new year of our own life and work. We did this a number of years ago, and I know that some of you still carry the clear glass beads that were presented as reminders of that gift of grace.
I look forward very much to seeing the discoveries, the possibilities, the opportunities which the new
year brings. Lisa Williams has written about one that is already with us even as the year has barely begun. Our
mission continues to grow and thrive, and brings us into new relationships of love and service. The truth is that
the grace of God is always moving ahead of us, leading us, encouraging us, inviting us into the future that God
has promised and prepared.
Grace and peace,