A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Moving Forward Together

Sherry and I are gobsmacked when we look back on what 2021 held for us, thanks to God continuing to do new things in our lives. In January 2021 we could not have predicted how different life would be in January 2022. We could not be happier and hope you all feel the same way. Our experiences in moving north without all the details firmly in place reminded me of the psalmist declaration in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God lights the way and we follow; Jesus blazes the path and we go; the Holy Spirit gives us a nudge and we move. It is a sound approach for individuals and for whole church communities. The way is never easy, but it’s never dull either.

We are going to have to take care of each other in this brand new year full of potential and promise, because it is also full of challenge. One such challenge is the COVID resurgence. The numbers are up both in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We will all do our level best to keep each other safe. That is a shared responsibility of life in community together. Church leadership has been in swift and serious discussion on what must be done to keep everyone healthy and will need the cooperation of the whole congregation. As Paul advised in Galatians 6, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ.” In the same passage, Paul advises to restore on another with a spirit of gentleness. Wearing masks, washing hands, using sanitizers, and keeping our distance will help us share each other’s burdens, taking responsibility for each other’s safety. Sherry and I will be getting tested regularly for COVID to insure we remain safe to be around.

I am hopeful that this year, despite COVID, we will be able to establish a new youth group for our teens and a biblical storytellers group for all who are interested in presenting God’s word as the storytellers of old did, in ways designed to fascinate listeners and bring energy to the telling. We are also going to look ahead at opportunities that will arise to reach out into our community again to help others. In the past, we have done so in many ways and I’m excited to see what new opportunities God will present us with moving forward so we may grow as a missional church of the twenty-first century. Knowing how God works, there will be something for everyone to be involved with, at every stage of life. As the prophet Isaiah said, God calls us out, saying, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Our job is to perceive where God is doing these new things and would have us go in 2022. Jesus would tell us to get on with it just as he told the paralytic to stop lying around and get on with living in John 5:8, “Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk’.”

Wishing you all a blessed new year.

Pastor Jeff