Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isa. 41:10)
In the last 20 months, I’ve heard plenty of talk about faith over fear. The meaning is usually that if we have faith, we shouldn’t fear. Makes sense. But the reality is that we are often afraid. I think it’s a pretty natural state for us as human beings, and likely the reason that the angels and prophets, and even Jesus himself constantly called people back from fear into a state of trust. Trust is pretty tough to come by most of the time too. We do our best to trust our partners, our teachers, our pastors, maybe our doctors, rarely elected leaders. Trusting everybody all the time probably isn’t wise. It’s what all those email scams rely on. But Jesus can be trusted. God’s promises are good. No matter what happens in our lives and in our world, we can know that God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and new life are ours, because the Word constantly and consistently calls and reminds us that they are good for all time. As we prepare for the holiday season once again, we know we’re not quite back to where we’d like to be, but we trust and give thanks that God is still with us. We can have faith that Christ is still born for us, and look forward to a new year knowing the world is still in need of this Savior.
For now, we follow Jesus, learning the way of life that He brings. Our confirmation class is going strong, and the students were grateful to have Marissa lead them on Nov. 10th. We’ll meet Nov. 24th, and once in December before a winter break. Jacque and Dana have done a great job leading the little ones in Sunday School, following the narrative lectionary from worship, they reinforce the lessons we all hear each week. We had a great Trunk or Treat event thanks to Patt, Mary, and Ivy, and all who donated candy. October finished strong with our Reformation Sunday celebration and brunch.
In the neighborhood, we’re working to energize our core team with Nevadans for the Common Good. A small group joined in for training on issues of housing and helping increase awareness and access to rental assistance on Nov. 7th. Some walked in the neighborhood to help get out the word about changes with Fremont Middle School on nov. 14th, and this weekend we’ll hear from our lead organizer Anna Eng and local leader Patricia Haddad. The goal is to empower and encourage one another to build relationships so that we might work together as neighbors.
Tuesday, November 23rd is our Thanksgiving worship with pie afterward. Advent will include a return to soup suppers beginning Dec. 1 in Edwins hall at 5:30pm, followed by worship featuring Holden evening prayer with guest vocalists.
I continue to serve with the Grand Canyon Synod New and Renewing team, focused on new and redeveloping congregations and ethnic ministries in our synod. I am also leading with the ELCA vital congregations team, and will be participating in leading multiple training sessions beginning in January. I have also attending our synod conference dean’s meeting and will be at our next conference clergy gathering Dec. 2nd.
I continue to give thanks for the love and generosity shown by this community of faith as we have reached out to families in need, helped our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and visitors in need of help. The humble service of all our staff and ministry leaders that flows not from fear, but from faith in our generous God, and love for one another, gives witness to our mission to share the heart of Christ in the heart of the city and to be Living Hope here in our valley. Thank you for all that ways you uphold me as your pastor and my family as well. God Bless you.