2018: United in Christ
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that
belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
When I think back on 2017, I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. I guess this is fairly normal for a pastor. I am humbled to see how God has used the ministry of this church to impact the lives of so many. In many ways, 2017 was not an easy year. We experienced both celebrations through baptisms as well as the struggle of loss. Through all of these situations we have experienced the consistency and comfort of our Father in heaven. Let’s take a few moments to look back over this last year and celebrate some of what the Lord has done.
I could take the time to write about all of the things that have floored me this year. I have watched our youth program, and our children’s program step up in major ways to challenge our young people in the Word of God. We have experienced both young people and adults express their faith in baptism this last year. However, I will allow the other ministry leaders to spend some time talking about those things. I would love to take a few moments to review some of the highlights, in my mind, from the pulpit.
We took a lot of time to walk through some of the more difficult parts of Scripture. Last summer, we walked through a survey of the major prophets. We took ten weeks and worked our way through the call, curse, and hope presented by each prophet.
We learned that the prophets played a primary role in setting the expectation of the messiah in the hearts of every Israelite. The message of the prophets sharpens us toward obedience and conviction, but also promises perfect fulfillment of the full requirement of obedience. As we entered the fall this past year, we took thirteen weeks to work through the book of Nehemiah. This powerful study prepared our hearts for advent as we experienced the expectations of the returned Israelites. They longed to see the presence of God return, but were left waiting for Immanuel. This study highlighted our addiction to sin and disobedience and elevated our tremendous need for a savior. One who would come and bring God’s rightful rule back. We needed God incarnate. This flowed directly into advent. We celebrate the advent of our king who rules in majesty and divine perfection. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ are being transformed in order to display the Glory of God to all creation. This is pretty weighty stuff. I am proud of our entire church for not only hanging in there, but for jumping in with both feet and showing us that you are capable of so much more than we could have ever expected. 2017 has truly been a year worth praising the Lord.
As exciting as 2017 has been, I am very excited about moving into 2018. We are one church who serves one Lord (see verse above), and as one body we are entering 2018 with God’s grace and mission. We have published our preaching calendar and the Elder’s priorities for 2018. The reason we are communicating all of these things up front, is because we want 2018 to be a year that everyone, who sits in the seats of our sanctuary, takes ownership of the mission set out in Scripture. We are not slowing down, rather, we are going to continue to challenge everyone to allow the text of Scripture to build and transform you, in order that you might be the transformational work in your context. This is the great challenge laid before us. Let’s make some New Year Resolutions / Commitments that will impact others, for the sake of the Gospel, more than ourselves. May we prioritize being the light in 2018. Let’s start by praying for one another, our church, our communities, and even our country. Then, let’s dig in and watch how the Lord wants to use us for His Kingdom. You are the church, you are the change, you are and have always been the Great Commission plan. The best is still out in front of us.
Pastor Joseph Smith