Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Greetings in the name of the Triune God!
Time continues to march forward—a new church year has begun, Christmas has passed, the year 2019 has come to a close, and our thoughts are looking ahead toward the new year of 2020.
I give thanks for God’s blessings upon us. We continue our ministry here in this place—the Good News is being proclaimed, the sacraments administered, and the people of God are ministering to their sisters and brothers in Christ; the members of this congregation are showing the love of God. We have much to be thankful for as we strike out upon a new year with our gifts, opportunities, and challenges.
God has blessed Bethany with much and we must put those blessings to work—continuing Christ Jesus’ mission and ministry of making disciples. The true mission of this congregation is to proclaim the gospel to our brothers and sisters who need to experience God’s love and the working of the Holy Spirit.
As Lutherans, we tend to take an intellectual approach to Christianity—it is something that one “learns.” We place great emphasis upon teaching—studies, classes, conferences, etc. and short the application or good works side of the proclamation of the gospel. I am sure that this is rooted in our emphasis upon justification by faith, not by works.
However, faith involves the whole of a person—body, mind and spirit. Our proclamation of the gospel, the Good News of Jesus, must encompass all aspects of the person just as Jesus’ ministry did. Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry the need for the holistic approach to the proclamation of the gospel through both word and deed.
Therefore, as we look ahead to the coming year and the future of Bethany’s ministry, we must do some long range planning and ask several questions. Where do we want this congregation to be in two, five, or ten years? Where is the mission field in the community? Who are the people we must reach out to, to whom shall we minister? Do we want the congregation to grow—do we really want “new members?” Moreover, what are we willing to commit to accomplish this?
Yes, the new year brings new opportunities and challenges to consider. No matter how we view these, we must take action to serve God’s people. We must forge ahead in the proclamation of the Good News by word and deed; for we will be known as Christians by the love that we show, not just by our words.
May God bless this new year of ministry.
In Christ’s service,