Dear Friends in Christ,

I need to lead off this February note to you with saying thank you to all members of Good Shepherd for the wonderful experiences you have shared with me and Cindy in our brief time with you thus far. Cindy has said to me she feels so warmly welcomed by everyone in that many of you have come up to her and engaged in conversation; she has particularly highlighted the conversations she’s had with children.

I also feel that our congregation’s annual meeting was amazing! A full house with great food! We even set up extra tables. As a newcomer, I sensed an eagerness to be engaged in our ministry together. Pastor Carl-Eric and I are eager to begin this new year with effective committee meetings/work, as well as continuing to create and lead meaningful worship services.

I thank you for passing a “faith budget”, one I believe is commonplace for faithful congregations engaged in doing ministry. Every step we take is by faith when we follow Jesus, so let’s see where our faith in Jesus leads us–both as we worship together and serve together.

Another item on my mind this month, as one of your faith leaders, is the current magnitutde of public conversation that includes divisive political rhetoric. This may be on your minds, as well. I remind myself that, as followers of Christ, we support a unique unity in Christ even when we are not unified on all matters; that we seek ways to engage in loving dialog and try to walk in the other’s shoes.

Synod Bishop Steven Delzer wrote to all of us this week about the immigration issues being debated around us. Here are some words of faith that surround who we are as Lutheran Christians:

  • The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. ~Leviticus 19:34
  • Jesus said: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me. . . Just as you did it to one of the least of these members of my family, you didi it to me.” ~Matthew 25:35 & 40

When we were confirmed or joined an ELCA congregation, we were asked:

“Do you intend to continue in the covenant of God made with you in holy baptism: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?”

And we responded:

“I do, and I ask God to help me.”

How do we heed the word of God and make good on that promise?

I commend this prayer, written by Bishop Delzer, to you and your families:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred that infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and, through our struggle and confusion, work too accomplish your purposes on earth; so that, in your good time, every people and nation may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Moving forward with you in prayer and in Christ’s love,

Pastor Charlie Leonard