Dear Friends through Christ:
Happy New Year! This is the year that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Who knows what 2023 will bring, but I say bring it on. Anything 2023 dishes out, we can handle. With the love of God in our heart and the name of Jesus on our lips, no challenge is too much and no question too hard. 2023 will be a fruitful year!
First of all, I would like to thank you for your generous Christmas gift. Sandy, myself and our son, Noah are Purdue University people, so we used your gift to attend the Citrus Bowl in Orlando to watch our favorite college football team suffer the worst loss in Citrus Bowl history, 63-7. Sandy and Noah were really bummed, but I told them, “Cheer up, there aren’t too many times a person get to witness history.” It was a fun day, all the pageantry, the bands, the people. Thank you!
Like I said, I have a good feeling about 2023. Sure, our culture has shifted and the desire to worship on Sunday morning has taken a hit, but there are still so many in our midst that are hurting and confused. There are countless souls in our neighborhoods searching for something, anything that makes sense in this sometimes-senseless world. We crave answers to the problems that occupy our minds. The struggle today is that too many have simply forgotten, or never been informed, it is the church offering answers. We offer these solutions simply through the mysteries of Word and Sacrament, free of charge. Don’t ask me how it works! They are the mysteries of our faith! I just know from firsthand experience, from experience in working with others, over and over and over, that these mysteries of Word and Sacrament can take a horrible situation and change it into a new creation. Seen with my own eyes, over and over again. That is why I can be so passionate about the proclamation of the gospel. The Word of God changes lives and situations! We are the Church and 2023 will be a fruitful year!
I believe Peace Lutheran Church offers a meaningful worship experience. We open our worship, we begin our entire week, by standing before God and one another confessing our sins, together. We are washed clean from the week’s past mistakes and shortcomings. We hear, “Your Sins Are Forgiven.” Our confessions are simply a return to the sacrament of Holy Baptism, a set apart washing, a Holy Sacrament, a mystery. Confession is the first step to our sanity. Let Go! Let God! It can be the most freeing moment of the week. Forgiven. Fresh start. We also offer readings from these 2500-year-old, “set apart books” we call the Holy Bible. Our story. God’s story. We attempt to learn what these Holy Words might mean in our daily lives. We pray for the church, the world and all those in need. Then we are given the “Real Presence” of our Crucified and Risen Savior, through the sacrament of Holy Communion, a “set apart fellowship,” another mystery of our faith. All this is surrounded with beautiful music hoping to touch your heart and soul. Now that we have been forgiven, now that we have learned from God’s Word and strengthen with the body and blood of our Lord, we are sent back in the real world, where the gospel, the good news is much harder to see. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, showing kindness to those we encounter.
Worship is what Peace Lutheran offers, and that worship is a vital part of a human’s search. Through the Church, God finds us. God comes to us through Word and Sacrament. We are the Church and 2023 will be a fruitful year!
Right after Sandy, Noah and I got home from the drubbing of our beloved Boilermakers, we sat down and watched the Purdue basketball team lose their number one ranking, getting beat by one point. Next, we turned to Monday Night Football, with Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. (We’re a sports family). Anyway, a Bill’s player, suffered a cardiac arrest during the game. The player was taken off the field and the game postponed. The young man is still in critical condition. What I noticed during the long delay were the emotions of the players when they realized they could do nothing else. Two hundred or more, grown men, who are armed like modern day gladiators, gathered together in a circle, holding hands, on their knees, praying together for this young man. The Church is not dead.
When a horrible situation occurs and there is simply nothing we can do, where does humanity turn? We turn to God, when nothing makes sense. However, the church teaches that we don’t need to wait until the bottom falls out and there is nowhere to turn. We teach God is always with us. And folks, what better way to have this life-giving message engrained in our being, than to start the week off fresh, with just one simple hour of worship and praise? With the love of God in our heart and the name of Jesus on our lips, no challenge is too much and no question too hard. You can cheer up, even during some of your worst losses.
Don’t you desire your friends and loved ones to experience the courage and strength that faith gives in your daily life? Sure, we do! Then Peace will grow. We will grow because of you! Peace will be a presence in this community because you desire Her message to be heard. We will grow because you brought someone to hear this life-giving and a life-saving message. That’s why I can say, I have a good feeling about 2023. Bring it on.
Happy New Year,