January 27, 2023
A note from the Holy Land
Dear First Family,
As I write this morning, I am looking out over the Sea of Galilee waiting for the sun to rise. Our group arrived in Tiberias last night after finishing our first day in the Holy Land. Today we will take a boat ride across this large lake in the northern part of Israel as well as visiting several sites including the Mount of Beatitudes, the sea-side village of Capernaum, and the recently discovered (Fall of 2009) 1st century village of Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene.
This is my fifth chance to bring a group from our church to the Holy Land. I’ve had the chance to bring both of my kids, but this is the first trip I’ve shared with my wife Stephanie. What brings me back again and again is the joy that is mine seeing the wonder and awe each person experiences as they visit these places for the first time.
In the coming days, I want you to know that I will be praying for you as you gather for a great weekend of worship. On Wednesday, February 1st, I will be giving God thanks for the great honor of serving as one of your pastors for 18 years and next weekend, I am already anticipating the culmination of our emphasis on the Wesley Covenant Prayer as we renew our commitment to God and one another to live as God’s covenant people together.
Below I wanted to include a message from our Pastor Emeritus, Rev. Mike Ramsdell, the great mentor I was blessed to serve under for 10 of those 18 years.
I love you friends and look forward to seeing you again soon.
Until then, may the grace, peace, and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
A Note from Pastor Mike
Stuff I’ve got to do.
So much of life, my life has been defined that way. A lot of it is good church stuff to do. I like that it drives my story, gives me energy and direction, including a little meaning and purpose.
It’s been a little disjointed since I retired this summer, with having sporadic church stuff to do instead of the weekly grind. Still figuring it out. In the middle of this I have asked the Sunday school class I have been teaching to read Psalm 23 every day. For me it has been a special blessing, just focusing on the verses that reflect on a simple walk with God, nothing more and nothing less.
But I still had stuff to do, this coming weekend I was preparing to preach 3 times, do an all day Kairos prison ministry training, including a preliminary meeting for a ZOE ministry trip to Rwanda. I was looking forward to the familiar and comforting ministry stuff to do, like I have lived for so many decades. The sermon was done and I thought, pretty good.
But I got Covid instead. I’m recovering well, but I’ll be at home and not at church, preaching, training or meetings or really doing much of anything.
“God, don’t you know I have stuff to do.”
God simply said, “No you don’t. You just have to walk with me. You are not the center of anything, I am.”
I know this, but the pattern of life too often distracts and detracts.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”
I think this is a battle many of us fight. In our culture we are so defined by the things we do and accomplish, and not who we are, who God is, and that relationship.
The Lord is our shepherd.
That’s enough and all this is required.
I’ll ask some folks to take notes for me at the meetings and look forward to hearing Pastor Jan preach as we’ll be attending online.