As we await another weekend, here are some words for us to consider....
Then Jesus said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9: 23)
Over the years, I have felt the desire to be more than just a checklist Christian. I've wrestled with the question, "How can I grow closer to God?" And I wasn't looking for the plastic Christian answers: Go to church. Read the Bible. Don't cuss. Be nice. Pray.
Now those are all good things. Things we should do. But we can do all those things and still have hearts that are far from God. I want connection. I want communion. I want closeness.
The New Living Translation puts Jesus' words in Luke 9:23 like this: "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." I want this kind of all-out pursuit with God. But what does this look like in today's culture?
I think a large part of what it means is breaking old habits to create space in my heart for new growth. In reality, God's desire for sacrifice --- our turning from our selfish ways -- is not for God's benefit, but for ours. Often that means breaking an old habit and creating space in our heart for new growth.
If we want to grow closer to God, we'll have to distance ourselves from whatever is distracting us. Break the old habit and create space in your heart for new growth. And closeness will soon bloom.
If I want to grow closer to God, I have to distance myself from whatever is distracting me.
+++ This Sunday, February 5th, the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, we gather for worship at 8:30am and 10:00am. We will be hearing from the 5th chapter of Matthew's gospel about salt and light and my message, "Becoming Change Agents" has me thinking about how we are called to spread the seasoning and light to the world. We will be "live-streaming" on the church's Facebook page at 10:00am and then "uploading" the completed service to our YouTube channel after it is completed. We will also be celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion this week so if you are watching from home... prepare your Communion elements so that you can join us.
+++ Following worship our volunteer drivers will be delivering this month's Shut-In Meal Ministry meals. Thanks to Sam who cooks, the volunteers who deliver, and all involved in this effort. We will pass 500 delivered meals this weekend! Thanks be to God!
+++ Our SPRC meets on Tuesday night, February 7th at 6:00pm in the Fireside Room. We hope to see all members of the team at the meeting and plan to accomplish some important business.
+++ Copies of Immanuel's Annual Report are available on the table in the Narthex. Please pick one up to see about all the ministry work we accomplished in 2022!
+++ Our Dinner and Movie Night is next Saturday, February 11th when we will gather to watch the movie, The Shack. Based on the popular book of a few years ago, the movie stars Octavia Spencer, Sam Worthington and Tim McGraw and takes us along on a father's transformative spiritual journey. Please make sure you sign up this Sunday so we are prepared for all who want to attend!
Make this day a great day and... STAY WARM!