Jan
20

“Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”” Luke 23:43

Home > Latest News > “Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”” Luke 23:43

April 21, a Community Easter Sunrise Service will take place at 6:45 a.m. at East Cemetery.  Everyone is invited back to our Fellowship Hall for breakfast following the Sunrise Service.

Easter Morning, we will have our normal worship service at  9:30 a.m. Nursery and Children’s Church will be available. Please note: There are no Sunday School classes or FUN Groups on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday.

Pastor’s Report for 2018   In six days, according to the Creation story of Genesis, God made the universe and everything in it. The stars. The sun. The moon. The earth. The mountains. The oceans. The plants. The animals. The people. Wow! He was productive! “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3) Theologian Walter Brueggemann describes these verses as God being “so overrun with fruitfulness that God says, ‘I’ve got to take a break from all this. I’ve got to get out of the office.”

We got out of the office in 2018. Learning from the example of Sabbath rest that God modeled, our church family took a break. Through the summer, I went on sabbatical and you ceased all church activity except worship. We learned how to say “no” to the demands of the world that we might say “yes” to the delights of God. That experience was life giving for me, and I believe, for you. A pastor friend told me and Session, “A sabbatical will save your ministry.” He was right. The time of rest restored in me the joy of serving others, appreciation for each of you and the expectation that God has more wonderful things He wants to do through our church family. I see a difference in you as well. Before the time of church rest, I had conversations with many of you who were tired, worn out, “burned out on religion” as Jesus puts it in Matthew 11:28 (MSG). When I asked about helping with a new project or serving in a new role, the answer was “no”…multiple times, from multiple people. Now, the same people are coming to me with Spirit-born ideas for ministry and an eagerness to act.

Yes, it is good to get out of the office. Jesus tells the weary crew in Matthew 11 to “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” That’s what we did. We got away with Jesus to learn to live freely and lightly.

As with God, our Sabbath was a healthy response to 6 cycles of fruitfulness. Turn back the calendar and remember these seasons: 2012 – we left the Presbyterian Church USA, 2013 – we finalized building plans, 2014 – we launched Capital Campaign #1, 2015 – we facilitated the building project, 2016 – we moved into the building and welcomed dozens of new people into our church family, and in 2017 – we celebrated our bi-centennial and completed Capital Campaign #2. All of this happened while maintaining, and sometimes expanding, regular ministry. Whew! It’s no wonder we needed a rest.

Stepping back from it all reminded me how important it is not to lose sight of who we are as a church family in the midst of change. While we have an indisputable call to make disciples and grow God’s kingdom, the sweetness of the journey with one another is part of God’s blessing to us. We can’t get so focused on tomorrow that we miss today. This is one of the reasons that as we head into 2019, we are seeking to recapture the essence of who we are as a congregation that “prays, goes and grows” by focusing on ministries that have brought out the best in us and been the best witness to our community. We are directing our hearts toward God in our monthly prayer gatherings, we are working side-by-side in another community home repair project and we are reaching out to children and young families through VBS. These are only a few of the things we have to look forward to in 2019. Most of all, we get to participate in these ministry opportunities enjoying God’s presence with and through one another.

Here is my main take way from my sabbatical: Fellowship is a means of grace, not a means to an end.  I’m so thankful I get to share the journey with each of you. I truly believe our most fruitful years are ahead of us. Now that we’re back in the office, it’s time to get to work.

With abundant joy, appreciation and expectation,

Pastor Jack

 

Our congregation celebrated the 200th year of its founding in 2017. So impacting lives for Christ is not new to us. We, quite literally, have been doing this work for centuries. There is no doubt, however, that what has transpired in our church in recent memory is a unique blessing from God. Not many small churches in small towns throughout America have been able to experience the kind of spiritual renewal, numerical growth and building construction that we have. Unfortunately, in our day, it’s more common for churches to permanently close their doors than to open new ones. That’s what makes the kind of work God is doing in Fredericksburg so important. It’s not just vital to our community; it’s critical to the spiritual fabric of our nation.

Who would have ever thought that God would chose to work in the way He has in our little congregation such that we might build and pay for a facility like ours in only 6 years. Of course, that’s not the most important work that the Lord is doing among us. Since we started worshipping in the new building in October 2015, and once we have a baptism and confirmation service December 10, 2017), we will have celebrated 93 “new shoots” expressing faith in the following ways:

  • 15 first-time professions of faith and believer’s baptisms
  • 41 new members joining through confirmation or reaffirming their faith
  • 4 infant baptisms
  • 33 exploring faith through regular worship attendance and engagement with the church