Report of the Pastor
The legendary baseball pitcher, Satchel Paige, once said, “Never look back, you never know who might be gaining on you.” Sound advice, to be sure. Looking back can lead to never looking forward, and that is not a good thing. Our God is a God of the future, not the past. Our God is living and active and present, here and now, leading us towards a new day, and new opportunities.
God is the God of hope, and hope is always future directed. We hope for what is yet to come, for what is yet to be. We hope because we know that God is leading us onward towards the realization of that hope. We hope because we know that God is not done with us, that we are not yet fully what we will be. “We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it”, as Martin Luther wrote. We hope because we know we are on a journey, a journey of faith, a journey towards God, a journey led by God, a journey we take with God.
That being said, and as we look towards the future, let me take a moment to remind you of some of the things we’ve added since 2012: Women’s Retreat; Community Dinner; Golf Outing; Men’s Breakfast; Women’s Breakfast; Trunk or Treat; full time director of Youth Ministry and Christian Education; 20+ youth and adults going on domestic mission trip (up from earlier years); 6 adults going on overseas mission trip (up from 2 in earlier years); Cars, Coffee, and Christ; two active small groups; second joint service at Christmas with Peace in Zion; and new ideas are being explored like Stephen Ministry.
As we move towards the future God is preparing for us, I just want to remind you that we are doing quite well, even with lower attendance numbers. New people are getting involved, new ministries are being explored, we are stable financially, we are opening ourselves up to the community more and more, and we are in a good position to face the future with optimism. The energy is here, the Spirit is empowering us, and we are finding new and exciting ways to be God’s people all the time.
Of course, no one can say exactly what the future will look like, but I know that moving into God’s future will require one thing of all of us, a willingness to embrace change, when change is what is needed to embrace God’s new future. We cannot stubbornly cling to what was, simply because it is what once was. Just because a ministry was vital and successful in the past, that is no guarantee it will have the same results in the future. The world is changing, the way people live their lives is changing, what people want, expect, and need from the church is changing, and we, as a congregation, have to be able to meet those changes head-on, all the while remaining faithful to the core truth of the Good News God has revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ.
Is there anything we can say now, as the future rises up before us? Yes, there is something we can say. God is always faithful. God is always present. God is always loving. God is always inviting. God is always healing. God is always making us new. God is always leading us. God is always walking with us. As the church, we are God’s people, we are God’s beloved children, and we are God’s messengers of grace and God’s agents of love.
The message we proclaim is the same now as it has always been. We preach Christ crucified and risen. We preach the victory of life over death. We preach the power of love to overcome hate. We preach inclusion in the face of exclusion. We preach good news for all people. We preach a God who loves unconditionally and eternally. We preach the truth of salvation and redemption for all through Jesus Christ.
The challenge we face as we move forward is how to proclaim this great good news in ways that will connect with people as they are today. What new programs do we need to offer? What new ministries do we need to start? What new songs do we need to sing? What new words do we need to speak? What has the past taught us that will allow us to be the church for the future?
The answers to these and many other such questions will come, not from any one of us, but from all of us. The answers will come from all of us working together. The answers will come from all of us taking on what tasks we are able to take on. The answers will come from a greater immersion in prayer and scripture and worship by all of us. The answers will come from our hearts and minds being open to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. The answers will come from our lives being given over to service to the other. The answers will come from love being our guideword and our core action. The answers will come if we are open to the many ways God will reveal them to us.
2019 is a new year, filled with new hope and new opportunity, for St. Luke’s, and for all who call St. Luke’s their church. Welcome to the future!