Brothers and Sisters:

 

The memories and excitement of another new year are beginning to wane.  We have been looking forward to the arrival of 2021 since April or May of 2020.  We have been given promises of hope with the distribution of a vaccine for Covid-19.  Even with hope dangled in the news, it will still be some time until we can finally claim “normal.”  As a result, I had and needed to take a moment to look back at 2020 to find the things and moments that brought me great joy.  Joy that carried me through the year and has given the true hope that stays with me now as we begin to navigate 2021.

One of the things that I has brought me great joy has been worshiping with you both in person, but also in our Zoom room.  I love sharing God’s word with you in worship each week. I find great joy in reading the texts appointed each week and spending time thinking about how they apply to God’s people at All Saints and in the communities in which we interact, be it at school, work, or play.

Often times I find that I have much more to say than is really possible in the midst of a worship service. A typical week finds me trying to decide which idea of many I want to go with and how to best express that idea. I find myself wanting to go in two directions and knowing I can only go in one. So I make choices, knowing that the Holy Spirit takes that choice and uses it in ways I cannot begin to imagine.

You might notice in the next few weeks we are getting readings from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians—a fantastic letter and one of my favorites. As  February and Valentine’s Day approaches, it is easy to wander down the path of 1 Corinthians 13. Many of you are very familiar with the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians; it is often referred to as the “love chapter.”  You know the verse I’m talking about—”And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  We love to use it at weddings, talking about how great love is. Don’t get me wrong, love is fantastic and we need to strive to love one another—but did you know that the people of Corinth, the people Paul is writing to, didn’t get along? At all?!  If they did, it was begrudgingly at best. Paul goes to Corinth to show the people who are constantly arguing with each other that there is a better way to be in community together:  to love one another, to celebrate each other’s gifts, not to argue about who is right and who is wrong, not to point fingers at each other for their faults, but to love one another as God has loved us. We don’t deserve God’s love. We have done nothing to earn God’s love and there is nothing we can do. As broken sinful people we fall short of God’s grace. Thankfully, it is up to God and God has claimed us and loves us just as we are. “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 

Now if you will permit me a brief moment on a side note.  I have been so very grateful and LOVED during my time here at ASLC.  Unfortunately, because of the timing for submitting articles for the next month, I have not had the moment to thank you.  THANK YOU for the sisters and brothers you are in my life.  For the gift and love you have been in my nephew Jesse’s life.  For the outpouring of cards, notes and gifts that you have bestowed on us both.  THANK YOU again for the greatest gift of love – the love of Christ that you are in our lives.   So, I want to take this moment now, to let you all know how much I love each and every one of you with the love of Christ.  But as pastor, it has brought me great joy to see and know first-hand what a gift you are in our community.  Even through years like 2020 – you remain a loving, welcoming community of Christ and share that light and love in some of the dark places in our community.

I am filled with hope at the anticipation of all the things that are possible and dare, I say, yet to happen at All Saints as we get back to “normal.”  Look out 2021!  May you continue to be a blessing to others as God has first blessed you.

Shalom,

Pr. Paul <><

 

p.s. – Did you know?  Ash Wednesday is on February 17, and we will have Wednesday services all throughout Lent.  We don’t know yet if we will be worshiping together with our Sister Congregations yet – but we will have wonderful Worship none the less.  Please check the newsletter and check the calendar for further details.

 

p.s.s. – Did you know that Luther said. . . . ???  Did you know Luther had an Epiphany after reading the Bible?  It became his 95 Theses!