We had a wonderful Advent-Christmas season at First Church, with so many special services. On Christmas Eve we had nearly 1000 people worship with us in the 4 services. On Christmas morning we had 227 for a joint service, and on New Year’s Day we were back to a regular Sunday Schedule to celebrate Epiphany with the story of the wise men. About 400 made it out of bed and to church to begin the New Year! Below our average, but admirable for a holiday.
So many “thank you’s” are in order! Musicians, worship team/decorators, communion stewards/servers, ushers/greeters, and staff all deserve our thanks for their contributions in making our worship experiences so meaningful.
This Sunday, the First Sunday After Epiphany, we celebrate The Baptism of the Lord. We’ll reaffirm our baptismal vows in a service that many have found to be meaningful. I always look forward to exploring the meaning of baptism and how we live into it.
It’s too early to report on finances for 2016. We can report, looking forward, that our pledges for 2017 are down. Many who pledged last year have not done so for 2017. We have several new pledges, but we need more to confidently structure a budget that will allow us to continue the growth of ministry and mission. If we do not soon receive additional pledges for 2017, we will have to make some very hard decisions. If you’ve forgotten, or have been waiting, please return a pledge card as soon as possible. And many thanks to those who have returned theirs!
Finally, I share with you once again my favorite reading for this time of year, from the late Howard Thurman, pastor, theologian, educator, civil rights leader, mystic:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
See you Sunday where “the work of Christmas” continues!