Happy New Year! I cannot speak for you, but as bad as everybody remembers the year 2020, I will look back with mixed feelings. I believe there is lots to be thankful for: the congregation continues to generously support this ministry, we have developed a wonderful on-line presence, we have improved our communications and web-site presence, we have continued a faithful and prayerful presence in our community…which stretches nation-wide. We have shown we are truly in the Mountains for Good…and in the valleys and plains as well. We have so much to be thankful for…both little things and great things.
I am reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor/theologian during the Second World War, who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis at the close of the war. He wrote: “Only they who give thanks for little things receive the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts God has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from God the little things?”
My friends, as we enter this New Year, even as we wish we were worshiping together in person in our sanctuary, Bishop Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod has strongly recommended we do not meet in person to at least the end of March. This is hard to hear but not at all surprising. He is wisely encouraging safe worship practices while the pandemic continues…and cautions us that we will need to evaluate our situation even after the vaccines become more available. Again, no surprise there.
With that news, let us continue to remind ourselves, that, yes, we are all praying for the “big thing.” That is, to worship again together in our sanctuary. But let us also remember that as people gathered by God we continue to be stewards of God’s gifts…both big and small…for this congregation and our communities…not to mention all of creation. Indeed, we are grateful that God continues to entrust us with the life of this congregation. Yes, God does. How can we not this coming year constantly give thanks to God? My friends, let us continue to lift up and act upon the possibilities that God places before us.
Remember, God said life is good. And, my friends, life in this congregation will continue to be so.
And so we will continue our worship on-line through at least the season of Lent. Our Wednesday evening Lent gatherings are planned to be a spoken word services coupled with a book study.
Again, I look forward to this coming year and our growing in faith together. After all, the power of the Holy Spirit is truly upon us. Our future in Christ is linked to each and every one of us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are committed to grow in faith and to use the gifts God has provided to us for Christ’s mission. We will move forward in a healthy manner.
At Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church we will continue to gratefully and faithfully build community through prayer, worship, and fellowship. Each day we share our gifts to build up the Body of Christ. In doing so we affirm that God enables us to accomplish the mission Christ places before us.
For our words and actions we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. And we will continue to do so. Today and throughout the coming year.
Christ’s Peace, Pastor Steve Leiser