Dear Church family,

On Monday, I went on a ride along with a police officer who expressed how challenging policing has become in recent years. On Tuesday I sat in a hospital room with a mid-30 year old man in constant pain (the I.V. pain killer hardly helped). On Wednesday, I heard a retired pastor express regret on how he handled a teenager struggling in sin 30 years ago. Every day I hear about the anxiety and tension that covid, politics, and family dynamics create.

The more I listen, the more I sense that people are buried in burdens. Fear seems rising. Hope fades. A sense of paralysis grows.

I believe the devil hopes to exploit the pressures we face. He wants us to divide. He wants us to create an “us versus them” mentality so we can hate “the other.” He wants us to become self-protective. He wants us to be hostile toward those “not like us.”

Yet, into a world of worry, Jesus says, “Be not anxious about anything; your heavenly Father knows…your heavenly Father provides.” Jesus says, “love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, love as your Heavenly Father loves.” How did Jesus combat hostility in the 1st century? He took whips, ridicule, and death. He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I believe the church is poised for great things in the year to come. We have a compelling gospel, a beautiful community, and a tangible alternative to the vitriol that rules the day. I’m excited to be on this journey with you. It starts with us drinking in God’s forgiveness together; it continues as we pour our grace and forgiveness to the world around us.

What’s ahead…

#1: I’m preaching about Intimacy, Sexuality, and Marriage January 31-February 28. My main text is Song of Songs (check out this video for a fantastic overview of the book, Some parents wonder if this is kid-appropriate. I’m confident that my message will be PG (I’ll not be more explicit than the biblical text itself). Hopefully, if I say something that requires some explanation, it opens a great door for you and your kids to have a great conversation.

#2: Nursery and Children’s Church during the worship service plan to be open every other week in February. (Lord willing, Sunday School starts in March.)

#3: Small groups are available and beginning to meet again, some in person, others via Zoom. Let me know if you want to join a group.

Onward and upward,

Pastor Matt
-Pastor Matt

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