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Turning the Page on 2020!

(John 4:13-14)

Can I ask what your prayers have been like as we get ready to turn the page on 2020? Have they been pleas for mercy? Have you found room for thanksgiving? Is it possible that we have been giving God just a few to many specifics on how to get 2021 right? What are your expectations for 2021 and how can we leave ourselves open to the surprises God has in store?

2020 was the year of tik-toks. I remember one of the early themes with many comical videos was a nursery rhyme soundbite that looked back on the past saying, ‘I miss you,’ to the memories of each year gone by. (I like 2016 the most myself – go CUBS!) The challenge was to find the most creative way to say, ‘I hate you’ to 2020. I hope that is not what our prayer life has evolved into. We do not have to play the victim. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react. Instead of hating the past or dwelling on the negative, what are some positives we can say yes to as we start a new year?

Is 2020 really a chapter we cannot go back and read again? What would it look like to replay some of those low moments and watch for God’s care? Often, we can see God best in trials. When we cannot depend on our own well laid out plans.

In the exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan women found in John 4, the argument is made that Jacob’s well is as good as any new idea Jesus may have to offer. What is the ‘Jacob’s well’ from your 2020? What old pattern for living or mental stumbling blocks may have exposed themselves in the trials of this last year? More importantly what new way of engaging life is God inviting you into?

As we turn the page on 2020 and look for a fresh start there are two ways to invite your friends and family to depend on God in this new year. First, our worship series is: Answered Prayers. Ask people to worship with you online and follow by asking how they experienced God.

Second, what would it take for you to step back and take a fresh look?

We have set out on a new vision for Messiah Lutheran Church. The staff and leadership gave me a chance to step away from daily tasks, study our recent history and listen to God. After getting input from our leadership, we have adopted a strategy for the next 18 months. It is our focus for now until Easter of 2022.

There are 3 ways in which we can all look at things in new and refreshing ways.

1) We are asking the people of the church to take a fresh look! Take a fresh look at your involvement in the church. What is it that you want to be a part of? Do you have a small support group of people that you cannot only serve or study with, but that you can lean on in times of need? Who is it that you would ask to pray for you? Take a fresh look at what it means to be a part of the church. Take a fresh look at what God is doing in your life and join Him there.

Some fruit of this self-examination might be investing your time and energy into the people of your life group. Pray with them and share your prayer concerns with them. Perhaps your next step is simply deciding which life group you are going to be a part of.

2) We are asking our leadership to take a fresh look at the way we do things. The old wells of Jacob may have served us for a time, but as we have learned in the last year, there are many new and engaging ways to be known in our community sharing Jesus love and teachings.

Primarily we will be assembling 3 new teams. A Database Team to support our staff in keeping accurate records of our members and our community connections. A Constitution Team to update the roles of our elected leadership and take a fresh look at what it means to be a member of the church. And a First Impressions Team given the freedom to completely reinvent how we create connections and follow up with those who gather here through out the week.

Some fruit of this effort will be an updated constitution, more volunteers, and clearer expectations of what each volunteer is committing to be a part of in the various teams that see God’s mission for Messiah.

3) Finally, we are asking our community to take a fresh look at what God is doing in their lives through the church. What would it take for those who are not a part of the church to see the work of the church outside of its four walls with new eyes? Part of this has already happened as we engage the world through online worship and are investing in our community in new ways. We are also asking you to consider increasing your giving to the general fund so that we can honor our commitment of increasing our benevolence by 10% this year and the next. We have decreased our general fund compared to last year in this uncertain time. While we keep a tight lid on our expenses, the one place we are not going to cut back is giving outside of our four walls.

Some fruit of this outreach will be new ministries like lil loves, new faces on campus, and new opportunities to be the church in the community.

Jesus is offering you now the same thing he offered the Samaritan women trapped in the old patterns of life. Because of Jesus and his appeal, you have sought out, asked for, and are right now receiving the words of life… a Fresh Start… 2021 will be a fresh, bubbling spring within you, giving you eternal life.

Pr. Kurt

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