From childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NRSV)
Each year in the Lutheran church, we follow the life of Jesus. We focus on one of the Gospels and walk with Jesus. I ran into someone in a store a while back who recognized me as a pastor and asked what we were studying now. When I mentioned the Gospel of Mark, she rather rolled her eyes and said – O well, our church has moved on from that, we are reading the Proverbs. The Proverbs are great. They are the Wisdom of the Hebrews attributed to Solomon. However, the purpose of scripture is to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (3:15). Jesus is the heart of the scripture. Following him helps us put it all together. That is why each year we walk his walk.
As we entered 2021, we hope for an improvement on 2020. We hope to turn some pages on racial justice, COVID, the economy, employment, soaring debts and climate change. But one thing is certain: the future is in the hands of God. Jesus will be at the center of the future.
Mark summarizes Jesus sermonizing as, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15). A four-step program is outlined:
- Act Now –time is not eternal for us in this life. Some of you know that I am a KC Chiefs fan. They were able to survive another rather close game last week, even after Patrick Mahomes, their quarterback, left the game. This week they take on the Buffalo Bills. The winner moves on to the Super Bowl. The loser will go home. It is either now or next year in the playoffs. In Philippians 3: 13-14, Paul suggests that Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” He is acting NOW.
- Near – God’s kingdom is near, not far away. As we look to turn the page on 2020, we look for opportunities near at hand to do good work. Paul says scripture can equip us. What can you do in the Yucaipa and surrounding areas to sow the seeds of hope? Our members will step up this week to help with the pantry, with outdoor improvements, calling on members. What are you being equipped to do?
- Repent – Paul forgot “what is behind” in order press forward. Jesus came to free us from past. Hopefully, as a country we can learn some lessons about fear, hatred, health, economics and the environment from current events. As individuals, we can learn lessons as well. As parents, we can likely think of times that we could have done better. Some people look back and think of how they failed as children. We may know of ways we have failed ourselves. What God’s Word is saying is that we must not allow ourselves to be bogged down by our past failures. The past is prologue not prescription, therefore, we are invited to move forward into the future that God has for us. Paul, who called himself the greatest of sinners, had issues. But now he “presses forward.”
- Believe in the Gospel as we open 2021. Believe in the Good News of a new day. A spirit of hopelessness can set our anchor in a sea of despondency. Gluing ourselves to the past can destroy marriages, break up families, ruin friendships and split churches. We are reminded by the Gospel of the power of forgiveness. In the year ahead, remember Jesus’ word: Take heart, your faith has made you well.”
God Bless you!
Pastor John Bunge
WORSHIP – Outdoors – Sundays at 10 am; the gremlins of the internet cut short our Zoom last Sunday. But I will try some new ideas about zooming. Judy Mishoe, is helping, but do know it is a bit experimental at this point. In addition, a link of the recording of the service will be sent to you later on Sunday will be on our Website as well. The Zoom link each week will be https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89118792862?pwd=WUF6aHB3dmFHOXp5SWZ4ZnRDVUtJdz09
You can also go into Zoom each week and enter Meeting ID: 891 1879 2862 with the Passcode: Faith – if you want to be a part of the experiment, join ahead of the service, say ten minutes so we can ensure all are on together.
MEMBER UPDATES AND CONTINUAL PRAYERS
- Pray for the families those who died of COVID.
Daniel Armenta’s family, friend of George and Pat.
Cesar Guevara’s family. He lost his sister, Ciria, and nephew, Esteban.
Vince Vitterio’s family. Friends of Bunge’s.
Claudia Gambino, who died of COVID January 10, friend of Carol and Ed.
- Jan Wheeler’s cancer surgery went well, but do include her son, Michael, in your prayers. He has need for employment.
- Continue prayers for Lynda for healing.
- Michael Shea’s daughter, Rebecca, requesting prayer as she ponders her future.
- Becky Malinowski continues her treatments for a reoccurrence of cancer and continues to do well with them.
- Carol Fultz’ sister, Barbara Colangelo, is back in rehab.
- Friends of the Halls who have COVID Denise, Braxton and Mandy.
- ICU beds are limited, Please, be safe.
- Landscaping improvements continue out front. Check out the riverbed feature this week. A concept drawing of the rest of the front area is on the office window.
- Thanks to Joe Koenig to fixing our mail slot and working with our gardener Jesus Hernandez on our riverbed for the front landscaping.
- Reminder people who have Thrivent, remember to designate your 2020 Choice dollars before the end of March. Designating them to Faith means thousands of dollars for Faith. You can also contact the office to coordinate requesting Action Teams. The Action Team of $250 each goes along ways to help our Ministry.
- Our next pantry day is this Saturday, January 23rd. As the result of a Synod grant, we have a new refrigerator. This updates an older refrigerator and only takes $43/year to operate.
- Eleanor Diaz continues to help organize our quilting area. She has been making masks, lap blankets and knitted shawls for people. She is now working on the large quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Please call the church office if you wish to help her with the quilting ministry. Also, if you have any extra bookshelves around that you wish to donate to the church,
thank you. We have more fabric than space.
Sunday January 24 – Epiphany 2 – The Four Step Start to 2021
January 19 – Council Meeting – 5 pm
Sunday January 31st Congregational Meeting – Annual Reports will be emailed to you this week and mailed next week. We will
You are special people! We are a special congregation of FAITH!