January 8 2023

After good times celebrating together during our Christmas services, we are resuming the regular activities of our life together: work and prayer, fellowship and study. We have put away the decorations and the carols until next year. Now the choirs, the children’s programs, the Bible studies, and the mission work carries on. We continue from the birth of Jesus, God in the flesh, given by Mary, to Jesus the Lord, calling children, teens, and adults, women and men, to follow him.

We spent the fall reading and reflecting on scripture lessons from the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, building the city of God. A city is people: their relationships, their creativity, their care, their work, all manifest in art, business, parks, streets, buildings, schools and hospitals. The local church is also people, their relationships similarly made visible in all sorts of ways. Both of these merely look toward the eternal, heavenly city that is coming:

“Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders;
The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Your days of mourning shall be ended.
Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever.”
(Selected verses from Isaiah 60)

By grace and grace alone, Jesus invites us to become citizens of that city, caught up in its relationships; to be born again and to learn its way of life through his life and death, his teaching, and God’s Spirit living within those who obey him.

May Jesus’ words speak to our hearts and minds once again in this new year as we look toward the city he has prepared for us.

Grace and peace to you.

Pastor Joel



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