Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The old year of 2013 in the review demonstrates the truth of one of the most comforting truths of the Holy Bible, “and His name shall be called Emmanuel.” God has indeed been present and among us. Yes there have been many, really there have been countless ways God has been present. What might be the countless times God has been present?
We have stepped across another threshold of time, but we take a moment to collect our thoughts about time, all of which includes: past, present and future. We do this remembering the Word of the Lord just preceding His ascension into heaven. “And behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” May the Lord give us the eyes of faith to see that God Himself is present in every moment of our lives. He always has been. He always will be.
The Psalmist says it in this personal manner, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God's Word speaks the truth, and from age to age It's divine light has been shinning forth from one generation to the next. Therefore, having received this precious Word of God, as our heritage, and indeed it is light to guide us through the valley and the shadow of death, let us keep the resolve to proclaim His Word to this generation. Yes we have had God's presence, even in the midst of death. We have had God's presence in the midst of many sorrows and tribulation. However, we have had the Word of God to cheer us along the way, with this wonderful assurance: “God works everything together for good, for those who love God and have been called according to his grace and mercy.” There are times I am sure when you wondered if God really cares as much about us as the Bible teaches us. So many of our members have had to battle some rather serious infirmities. Our head Elder Gary Heiser was diagnosed with cancer in his throat and had to go through a series of radiation therapy and chemo therapy. We have seen a greater number of health issue especially as it relates to some of our long standing members and the elderly. Irene Kueper had a serious fall in early August and was not expected to walk again. Yet she has had a tremendous recovering and could be back to worship with her family in Christ on Easter Sunday. Ralph and Anna Trump have both endured numerous hospitalizations and many of us have wondered, “how many lives does Ralph have?” A rather large number of members have been in and out of the hospital, most recently Marguerite Bennett, and finally on the last day of the year your own Pastor went through a total right knee replacement. But we have the promises of Scripture that our God was, is and will always be with us.
Yes at times the Church appears to be so frail and weak. This might be so, to such a degree, that we would even beg God to remove some of our hardships. I know many a time I have asked God to take these burdens away. Over and over we have prayed together and for each other, “Lord, if it is Your will, remove this burden.” In many of these instances of prayer the Lord has removed these burdens and at other times He calls upon us to be patient and trusting.
God knows what is best for us at all times. Even though we found life filled with many tribulations, which included accidents, loss of jobs or maybe career changes we were reminded again and again by the living and ever abiding Word of the Lord of God's goodness and mercy. There were dangers, and sorrows, which marched their way through our lives in 2013, but none of them individually or even collectively were able to separate us from the love of God. But there were not just trials and tribulations we endured, there were countless blessings of God's goodness.
We celebrated accomplishments and milestones. We have seen the goodness and kindness of God through others. Perhaps, if we really took the time to appraise the circumstances of our lives we would be inclined, in a truly Biblical sense of the Word, to say; God has blessed us exceedingly, and abundantly above and beyond our wildest of imagination. Our little congregation has proven to be one of our greatest of blessings. Based on very careful evaluation this little flock, I can truly say concerning Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, “See how they love one another.”
The best part of the year 2013 in review is based on this Biblical observation,“See how they love one another.” This is what 2013 in review has made so clear to me. Surely the source of such love flows to us and through us from the love of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now then let us take this love bestowed on us from our heavenly Father and let it carry us into and through the coming year of 2014. Through each day, and week by week, from month to month, yes moment by moment, God will be with us in both our work and play.
Therefore, Grace, mercy and peace be with us all in 2014. Amen!
Sincerely in Christ,