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Pastoral Letter - February 16, 2024

Last Sunday we celebrated the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain top.   And celebrated the reception of a new member.

 

Church council meets this Sunday after church.   For more than several years, this congregation has had to focus on the building of new buildings and caring for its older one.   Now that our three old and new buildings are in pretty good shape, it is now time to spend some energy on mission and membership, which will be the focus of this Sunday's Council meeting.

 

It need not take very long, the meeting, that is.  We just need to inquire what the Holy Spirit is doing with us in this community in the weeks, months and years ahead, which will take time, a lot more than one meeting.

 

There are hundreds of books on church growth.  They mostly boil down to connection, connection, connection and location, location, location.  What does the Holy Spirit want us to do in this time and place?  How can we be in service to our community?  We do not need a big hifalutin plan; we just need to connect with our neighbors and see if we can help them make sense of their lives, help them connect to God, help them to connect to one another.  One person, one day at a time.

 

Let your friends and neighbors know that we are still here.  Get out and about as the weather improves and let's see if some answers start coming to our question:  What is the Holy Spirit calling us to do?

 

Our readings for this Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, focus on the temptation of Christ at the beginning of his ministry in Matthew 4:1-11:

"Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished."

 

Here is a prayer for Lent:

 

Forty days alone, a wilderness of thoughts, tempting and inviting thoughts, which could so easily have distracted you from your task, your mission, your vision. Yet you emerged, stronger and more attuned to all that had to be done, despite a time constraint that to our eyes would have seemed hopeless. We too live in stressful times. Demands are made of our time, that leave so little for the important things of life. We are easily distracted in the wilderness of our lives, by every call to go this way or that, to turn stone to bread, leap from mountains, and do all that would keep us from the truth. We listen to the voices of this world, and ignore the one who endured all this and so much more, and emerged triumphant, that we might not have to suffer so. Forgive us, Father, when we get distracted from our task. Forgive us those times when we try to be all things to all men,



and fail to be anything to anyone.

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