“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things…If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:22-23, 25)
As the body of Christ, we have been welcomed into God’s eternal embrace, fed, forgiven, and sent out into the world to live and serve! This is a gift and a blessing – and can also be hard work. We’re human too, and we are pulled in so many directions. So many of you have shared that you are overworked, overwhelmed, burnt out, or barely surviving. I feel it too. Too many pastors, deacons, and other faith leaders are hurting, frustrated, and under pressure to perform under difficult circumstances. I have been praying that we would find moments to connect and care for one another, rejoice and celebrate together, and invite others to come along and live in God’s grace with us. Living Hope has been a place of help and healing for so many and for so long, and we give thanks to God for the faith, patience, and generosity of those who share in this ministry. I’m grateful for you.
We took a few weeks this month to “pause” our in-person worship, and while it was not how we wanted to begin this new year, and truly a disappointment to be apart physically for a few weeks, I am certain we did the right thing. Several church leaders in our conference have tested positive for COVID, and we pray for their recovery. Our own COVID task force has continued to meet as needed, monitoring local data from the Southern Nevada Health District and speaking with medical staff and experts. We created a plan, (way back in 2020) and are doing our best follow it. This demonstrates our love for one another, as we create a safe space to worship.
Our ministry has not paused. Our Senior Meal Program continues, with new staff members in place. We would love to have more volunteers come to share the joy in Edwins Hall every afternoon! Next week we will finally deliver our Baby Layettes (collected in early 2020) to the folks at University Medical Center. The Girl Scouts continue to meet here twice a month. Our recovery groups are here for healing and community every day. Our homeless neighbors still need our care. Our city still needs our kindness and generosity.
Our Bible study will continue to meet online in the coming weeks, and will soon begin a new conversation on hearing the promises of the Savior in the Hebrew Bible. We’ll use Chad Bird’s book, The Christ Key as a guide to our discussions. We hope you’ll join in-person or online! Confirmation class has restarted for the new year and our group is studying Luther’s Small Catechism. Weekly Sunday School and Youth Group will resume in February.
Friends and guests are still joining us for worship online! Our new member class will begin in February and will include time to eat together, to serve together, and to learn together. I look forward to building these new relationships in Christ as we move toward a fruitful year in ministry!
The Spirit is leading us, and the gifts we have been given are for the sake of our families, our friends, and our neighbors. Each of you has been gifted to serve, to share, and to love in different ways. You are so appreciated. Thank you for sharing your gifts here. I’m certain that God is leading us to grow deeper in our faith, celebrate with joy, show kindness, and give generously this new year! God Bless you all.