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First Thoughts Blog

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Reflecting and Visioning

At the turn of the year, I like to remember and give thanks, then look forward. First of all for you, beloved church. I brag about you to my colleagues all the time. Your sincere faith in Christ Jesus, your passion for his Word, your love for one another, your engagement with our community, your realization that being in Christ empowers and influences every aspect of life. It really is a joy to be your pastor!
In particular, I want to express thanks for our staff team. Nearly all of them are dedicated church members. They are us! And how they love Jesus and his people. We strive to make every experience at church feel seamless and appear effortless, organized and comfortable. When I think of what it takes to host Sundays that invite and elevate, with the literally hundreds of moving pieces, I feel so grateful for a team that serves with such energy and excellence. They strive to include, knit, integrate and bless the whole congregation into one. And they feel your love.
Looking forward, our 200th anniversary is just three years away! I’m excited that the foremost way we will prepare is to start a process of long-range visioning that will lead to a five-year strategic plan. During the first half of this year, you’ll hear about opportunities to provide input into our priorities. Congregational engagement will be essential to the direction our elders give to begin our 3rd century.
More near term, this winter we’ll finish out our series on Ephesians. There are some powerful passages yet to come. Lent comes early, so in mid-February we’ll take up Lyrics for His Life: Praying the Psalms with Jesus. This is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It was quite moving to imagine which psalms Jesus might have prayed during events of his life, and then to join him in prayer. I believe you’ll get closer to Christ as you pray psalms alongside him. In addition to reading the printed book and daily emails, this year you can also listen to the daily content on our Lyrics for His Life podcast! Being part of a community group deepens the whole experience, so I hope we’ll have a record number of participants.
Meanwhile, the wonderful programs and missions of our church kick back into high gear, and there are lots of ways to get involved. It’s good to be on the quest with you, the quest to press deeper into Christ and share his love further into the world.