A week before Christmas, we ventured out to Colorado for the wedding of our eldest son. It proved to be a crisp, but sunny day; and even though the couple elected to make several adjustments to their original plan due to COVID-19, the entirety of the weekend came off almost exactly as they envisioned. It was really a joy for me to witness their witnessing of the results!

Oftentimes, that’s not quite the way things go with weddings. Typically, something goes askew despite the best of planning. We’ll hear one such story in the Gospel lesson for this week from John when Jesus attends the wedding of friends and does them one monstrous favor by avoiding a draining of the wine supply for guests. I envisioned him within that scene, witnessing the joy of that young couple from beyond the spotlight and simply being able to savor their celebration. I couldn’t help but give thanks for all of the folks I know who similarly serve quietly behind the scenes to facilitate life. I hope that they have the opportunity to witness some of what they make possible.

As we dive deeper (pun intended) into our “S.P.L.A.S.H.” sermon series, we focus on the first of the commitments we make at baptism: to “Serve all people, following the example of Jesus.” We’ll use the Gospel lesson as a starting point; join us, whether in-person or on-line!

Meanwhile, our staff and Visioning Council are working hard to pull together all of the details for our upcoming Annual Congregational Meeting next month (2/6). After finishing our current Adult Forum study this week, Adult Forum will offer a couple of informational sessions in advance of the Annual Meeting to share insights, ask questions, and hear perspectives. We hope that you’ll be able to take part - 9:30 a.m. in Room 1. We will change rooms if enough people attend.

Let’s discover what WE are blessed to witness together, as we seek to live out our baptisms this week!

Pastor Tim

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Dear Friends,

Can you remember the day you were baptized? Most likely you were in church and a little one would start to wiggle, or maybe an older child or adult would look down at the water with wondering eyes. You couldn’t help yourself…but smile!

Most recently, because of the safety concerns with COVID, especially for young infants and siblings, along with our commitment to be abundantly cautious, some families have opted to have their children baptized with only the immediate family members present.

Surely, there is much to be said about the presence of the church community. But what I have discovered is a new joy in the celebration of the sacrament of being baptized by the smaller crowds as they fill the bowl with hands of parents, siblings, cousins, and grandparents. Afterall, the Baptism of Jesus, was a family event!

Let me take this back and set the stage a bit. John the Baptist, who was a cousin of Jesus, was inviting people to be washed clean or to be baptized (see this week’s scripture reading from Luke 3:15-22). As many people were stepping forward in the river to be washed clean of their sin, the other cousin, Jesus, arrived to be baptized. John stopped the baptism, but Jesus invited him to continue.

I can imagine this scene of people walking up and down the banks of the river going in and out of the water as it flowed from here to there. Family members splashing water on one another in joyfulness as they played in the river after this once in a lifetime bath. Meanwhile, on this day, one cousin baptized another cousin…and a voice from heaven spoke to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

Two thousand years later, as we too, are washed clean of our own sin, we hear the message of hope. God does see us. God is please with us and we are gifted for the work of being God’s hands, feet, and voice in our world today. This act of the church and the families within shares the Good News and brings a much-needed smile for you and me this very day.

In awe and wonder,

Pastor Katie

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Dear Friends,

When my children were very young, we were so thrilled when they said their first words that we would clap and cheer them on! Eventually one word alone would either launch us into conversation or make us shake our heads to wonder “Why?”

In the past year, that may be our most common question: Why? Why did we have to experience challenges alone, as a family, or even as a world? I invite you to think of your own specific “why” question for just a moment.

In our scripture this week, we hear this message of hope from the Gospel of John 1:1-18: “…and the Word was made flesh.” We may ask, "Why would God enter into our world as a child?" The answer is in the same passage.

“14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth … 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known…” (NRSV)

Jesus Christ walked alongside of his people centuries ago and we are promised this very day that Jesus dwells in our greatest joys and our deepest heartaches. But still we cry out, “WHY?” The answer is because God will stop at nothing to reach out and connect with us so that we know the depth of God’s love that has been, is, and will always be a love for you, me, and all of God’s creation.

Then maybe the question is "Why are we called to gather for worship, learning, and service?" We gather so that, like the generations before us, the generations after us will all know and continue to be witnesses to others that God’s story of hope is our very own story of life everlasting. It is the story of God loving us in our days of laugher and holding us in our times of tears. It is God with us, God for us, God saving us, not because of our acts, but out of God’s promise to give us a hope that is life now and forever.

Blessings to you and your household as this New Year is just about to begin.

Pastor Katie

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