We are in the church season of “the Sundays after the Epiphany.”
That time of year for the Church to again reflect on the gift of Christ born in Bethlehem and to explore deeper who this Christ is revealed to be and why he matters.
This past weekend our new Church Council gathered for a day retreat to reflect on “where we have been, where we are now, and where we are headed” as a community of faith. We started the retreat reading, studying, and reflecting on Matthew 2:1-12, the official bible story for the Day of Epiphany on Jan 6th…. The story of the Magi following a star and when they discover the holy family, they open their treasure chests for the Christ.
This story is becoming one of my favorite stories in all of scripture.
It has it all… political tension and drama, theological easter eggs for what’s going to play out in the rest of the story of the Christ, the religious establishment feeling threatened by outsiders, the honesty and tension of both fear and joy being a part of our life of faith, and even faith and science with cosmological signs and mysticism.
And then at the end, Matthew shares that the Magi/Wise Men “after being warned in a dream to not return to Herod they returned home by another road.”
…they returned home by another road.
Church Council, along with Church Staff, discussed and reflected how all the themes and tensions in this Bible story are still realities in our life of faith today and in how we live in community with one another. We reflected on our dreams for Holy Trinity and how since the pandemic we are doing ministry by traveling down “another road.” We deeply love our community of faith and are so proud of where we have been and what we are up to now. All the while, challenging ourselves to continue being nibble and flexible with where the Holy Spirit is calling us in the days ahead.
Exploring “new normal” that all institutions and individuals are facing, we discerned several goals to help bring focus for the new year and to guide our ministry together.
Here are our goals for 2023, in no specific order…
Stewardship – Our goal is to make this a year-round Ministry Team and focus for our congregation, not just a fall emphasis campaign. We already have a new chair for the team and plan to do a Spring Special Appeal to focus on debt reduction and to explore how we can be better stewards of all our gifts, not just money.
Community engagement and engaging with one another in our congregation – The pandemic disrupted so much, and we are learning anew what it means to be together and to grow into deeper relationships. We hope to provide more opportunities to gather in person and to get to know one another in authentic and deeper ways.
Growing deeper in our spirituality – As we head into this new year we want to continue to grow deeper in our discipleship of following Jesus and to grow in our spirituality. We hope to do this through Bible Studies, Book Studies, Special Education opportunities and in small groups with one another.
Fuller Ministry Teams – We have so many gifted people in our congregation and our Ministry Teams are the means by which we strive to be a well-rounded and healthy congregation. Some of our Ministry Teams are very active and some are in need for new energy and members to share their gifts. We will share more of how you can be involved in the days and months ahead.
Here are just a few examples and stories that have brought me joy and energized me for the new year… ways by which we are doing ministry and coming home “by another road.”
- Over Advent, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we have had more people engage in our worship services than ever before… through our in-person services and our live-stream views. On Christmas Eve we were the most full we have been in many years.
- I continue to be amazed at how our online streaming ministry reaches people literally around the world. A family shared with me that they were able to attend Sally Binkowski’s memorial service from Australia. And then another family shared that their daughter couldn’t be with them for Christmas because she was overseas, BUT she was able to watch our Christmas Eve service on YouTube and in seeing her family take communion she felt connected to them.
- I’m listening to podcasts that were recorded in our buildings during Theology Beer Camp and I’m so proud of the brave and bold conversations they were having about authentic and honest faith and how they experience God.
I continue to be encouraged and inspired by what God is up to in our congregation. We have navigated our way through a global pandemic, remained steadfast in our core values as well as pivoted when we needed to in our ministry so it remains current and relevant, and after celebrating over 75 years of ministry there is no doubt we have at the least 75 more to go.
We hope you will engage in and help us fulfill our 2023 goals in the days and months ahead.