A blessed Christmas season and New Year to all of you! Together with my family, our staff, and their families, we wish you the peace, happiness, joy, and love of the One whose coming into our hearts we celebrate in these holy days and throughout the year!
I also want to say thanks again for the faith, love, service and generosity I see every single day in the life of God’s children at St. Andrew. So many people have been spiritually supported, helped, welcomed, comforted, and encouraged by the spirit that shines through you and the tasks you take up without hesitation so that the reality of God’s presence might be experienced in our congregation, its communities, and literally around the world. After twenty-two lightning fast years as your pastor, I still can’t get over the outpouring of goodness that I constantly witness in my colleagues, our church leaders, and so many joyful, humble servants who teach, listen, lead us in worship, carry food to the hungry, call us to task, care for children of all ages, and take risks for even greater Christian service in the days and years ahead.
None of it is easy. It takes time. It requires hard work. It costs a lot of money. And it demands a willingness to struggle, make adjustments, ask tough questions, and endure occasional disappointments. That’s what relationships, even in the church, are all about. But there you are, doing God’s work and living out the words that adorn the entrance to our sanctuary because “God’s Glory” is “Our Joy!” As we cross the threshold into 2019, I thank you again from the bottom of my pastoral heart for all the ways in which you live up to St. Paul’s declaration that “you are the body of Christ.”
Of course, with more blessings come more challenges. As Christmas approached, we welcomed another 48 new members into our fellowship, and in addition to needing our support and care, they need a place to park. As our Bible studies in Howard County resume this month, the challenge of putting another foot in that part of the mission field raises questions about who will go and how we’ll do it. Last Thanksgiving weekend, a former member of St. Andrew who moved away a few years ago returned to visit the area and worship with us. Before leaving, she said she had two observations that she wanted to share with me, namely that the congregation is younger than it was and is more diverse than it was when she left. As a church that seeks to serve people of all ages and from all places, I was blessed to hear that, but also reminded that, if true, we need to expand our support for young adults, young families, and new members from distant lands.
The good news is that, by God’s grace, I have no doubt you are up to the task. So here we go, thankful for all that’s been given and praying for more, so that we might use every gift God gives for the glory of our new-born King and the hope of those for whom He came.
As 2019 marks St. Andrew’s 70th year of ministry, may God richly bless your days and ours together and continue to make all things new for us in Christ.
With love and gratitude,