“This Spirit [God] poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:6-7)
Hope is powerful! Hope is trusting that the troubles we face will come to an end. Hope is believing that the future will include good things. Hope prevents us form falling into despair, from being dragged down by the pain and frustration of the world, and from thinking we can not be helped. If we have nothing else, as followers of Jesus, we have hope, and as we reflect on where we’ve been these last 7 months, we need all the hope we can get.
As a worshipping community, we hope that we will be able to gather in person again soon (I’ve stopped saying “be together” – we already are). We long to have that kind of contact, support, and presence for one another. As we are in conversation with other pastors in our conference, synod leaders, and church members, we are determining the best course of action for future gatherings. We have decided to remain online for now, but to gather for our congregational anniversary on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 25th in a limited capacity. We will be able to see how this goes, and give an example of what worship will be like when we are able to safely gather again on a regular basis. I am beginning to plan for Advent and Christmas worship. We expect these will be online, but we may look to include a small group if possible.
As neighbors, we hope that we will be able to adapt to the needs around us and grow in our service and generosity. With so many struggling in our city to find adequate work and pay the bills, the need for assistance is growing. We have maintained our outreach to the recovery community during the pandemic, we have begun new ministry to people grieving, and built new relationships, when so many feel isolated and divided. Our ministry partners Family Promise and Lutheran Social Services of Nevada are serving more residents in new ways, just as we are, and we can hope to serve with them in the months to come. Our fall giving letter (and pledge cards) are in the mail now. This year has been difficult with the death of many beloved and faithful saints, and now is the time for us to grow to provide for the ministry of the future.
As a nation, we hope that we will be able to come together and rise to the challenges we all face. I’ve enjoyed the Sunday morning Bible study and conversation about politics and scripture. This is good and fruitful as we think about how faith forms us to be active citizens and in conversation with those who might disagree with us. Our Friday morning men’s group meets at Makers & Finders at 7:30am and often has spirited conversation about how we are called to have faith and love our neighbors.
As the family of faith, we hope that we will be ready to open the doors of this building, to change faithfully, to share the good news of Jesus, to be made new again, and to welcome new faces into our midst. Our strategic plan is the road map – and we’ll need more to come and participate in reaching out to our neighborhood. As the weather has begun to cool, I’ll be walking the area around our church every Wednesday morning (8am?) and praying. Let me know if you’d like to join me.
We cannot see what the future brings, but we trust in the one who keeps promises, who is always present with us, and is always making us new. The difficulties we face are nothing compared to the joy we have in Jesus, and we do not lose hope.
Pastor Jason Adams