From the Pastor – January 2023

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “God is good; his love … endures forever.” Ezra 3:11

The New Year is here and with it winter like in times of old! The snow continues to pile up. This is great news if you are a winter sports fan or even a bookworm, with a nice cozy nook in which to read. For people who appreciate summer activities, winter can feel a little constricting. But, it doesn’t have to be. One thing that I admire about Northerns is they find a way to appreciate all the seasons as they come. Outdoor activities abound, even in the winter. Many of us ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, or icefish to appreciate our surroundings in winter. As for people who prefer indoor pursuits when it gets so cold outside that it hurts your face, it is a perfect time to develop your cooking, baking, sewing or even woodworking skills.

Woodworking is one of those hobbies that is difficult to begin. The tools are many and expensive, the skills to use them only come with experience, and classes are few and far between. But, the time spent learning to woodwork often rewards you with useful creations of
lasting beauty. If woodworking is an interest that you would like to explore, we have a church member who is ready to help. Lee Bernado is a craftsman who has been teaching canoe paddle making for quite some time. His first teaching group was my son’s Boy Scout troop. We all made paddles for an upcoming trip to the BWCA. Then, we used our paddles for that week-long excursion that took us to Canada and back. The paddle is a lasting memento of the time spent building, paddling, and developing relationships along the way. Lee is willing to share his shop and woodworking skills with you this winter. If you would like to make a custom paddle, he is inviting us to his shop to do just that. It will take two Saturday mornings and cost about $60 a paddle. If you are interested, please call me at the church office and we will set up a class. There is one rule, though, if you would like to do this with your teenage child, all young people must be accompanied by an adult. Safety is very important in a woodshop.

The turn of the new year also means annual meeting time is right around the corner. This year, the Annual Meeting Of the Congregation is scheduled for January 29th- right after worship. Although we have not been able to practice this in several years, our tradition is to have a potluck with the meeting. This gives us a chance to chat, eat, and build friendships while we do our work. In recent years, the pandemic has kept us from doing that. I am glad that this is yet another of the things we can return to as a church family. Now, the purpose of an annual meeting is to remind each other of the way God has loved us and worked through us. So, we spend a good deal of time talking about where we have been and what we have done. The next part might be even more important! We then consider where God will lead us in the next year, five years, and beyond. Please make time to attend the annual meeting. The food is great and the people are warm.

The Bible text above comes from the third chapter of Ezra. The people of God had just returned to Jerusalem by the grace of God and King Cyrus. They built an altar to God even though there was real risk involved. They worshiped and remembered that “God’s love endures
forever.” I suspect that we will hear similar refrains this year at the annual meeting. We have been through a whole lot these past years. We will remember the grace of God. We will consider the challenges ahead and boldly evaluate risks. Most importantly, we will remember the way that God has lovingly shepherded us and claim the promises for the future.

Grace and peace,