Posted by Pastor Stuart

It’s hard to believe, but as I write this, one year ago today I was writing my very first pastor’s column for the church newsletter, and I had only been on the job for 2 weeks. I was still trying to learn everyone’s name at that point!

Here’s what I wrote in the opening paragraph of that inaugural newsletter column:

“The first words of my first sermon as your pastor were ‘I’m excited.’ And indeed, I am very excited to be your pastor. As I said in that sermon, I feel God moving in Hickory Rock, and I’m excited to be a part of that good work. I can already tell that this church is special, and I look forward to celebrating that more in the future as we walk together and follow the call God has for us.”

Wow; that gets me fired up just reading it! And I continue to be excited about being a part of this special church. It grows more special every time you are here. Each one of you has unique blessings to contribute, so don’t hold back! And now that I’ve definitely learned everyone’s names, help me meet people I haven’t met yet, people who haven’t been here for worship this past year. They have great things to offer too, so let us invite them to join with our mission of serving God and serving others.

I went on to say in that first pastor’s column that I was excited about the upcoming Yard Sale because “so many folks will see that we are a congregation full of loving people…. [And] I look forward to being church outside of the normal Sunday morning worship time. In fact, it is outside of the church walls where we do the most work in building the kingdom of God. So let us be a church of kingdom builders who are helping to transform people’s lives!” Amen to that.

Now that I’ve been here a year, it would be nice to look around us and declare that God’s kingdom is officially built and completed, job well done. But we know that’s not the case. In fact, there’s always good work to do, always people who need to feel God’s transforming forgiveness through following the way of Jesus. The harvest is just as plentiful now as it was a year ago and in Jesus’ time (Matt. 9:35-38).

We should be encouraged because there is still good for work for us to do. You are still vastly needed to help transform people by demonstrating God’s healing love and strengthening power. Over the past year I have seen you make a difference in people’s lives by the contributions you have given, the time you have spent, the work you have done, the hugs you have offered, the food you have made, the wisdom you have shared, the games we have played, the phone calls, letters, invitations, and smiles of welcome. So keep it up.

Here’s to another great year of building the kingdom together!

Grace and peace,

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