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February 2024

Welcome February, Welcome Season of Lent. This is the season when the church brings into focus our identity as baptized children of God and our unworthiness due to our preference to live in sin. For Martin Luther, this was his “journey into the dark night of the soul”. A time to listen humbly from the foot of the cross as God calls for repentance. God’s call to redirect our daily chores in which we have prioritized and turn our heart in the direction of

Such a turning looks different for each of us. We are all traveling at different speeds, in various directions, seeking worldly gains. Repentance is the calling by Jesus to stop the vehicle, turn down the distractions so that we can listen and respond to God’s voice.

God’s voice is calling us to move in new directions during Lent that will bring us closer to him and closer to each other. We come together on Wednesday evenings for meals and time to hear God’s word. Through conversation and
reflection, the opportunity to grow closer in our walk with the Lord and our understanding of the new ways God is making his presence known in our midst. Wednesday meals are hosted in the Fellowship Hall.

Sundays we gather for worship in the recently refurbished sanctuary. We also have newly refurbished rooms and bathrooms that will accommodate and attract both young and old to experience the newness of God’s house. We
feel called to invite others in our community to “come and see” what God is doing to renew and restore his people. As we grow closer in our walk with the risen Christ, we are compelled to invite and share our faith with others. “Come
and see” and become a part of God’s transforming presence during Lent.

Tuesday, February 13th we gather for a “Mardi Grais” themed Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper. Bring your smiling humor along with your appetite and help us celebrate the joy of being together. We conclude with a fire filled
event setting the tone and mood for a more somber Lenten journey on February 14th . Ash Wednesday does not include a supper meal, but the next six Wednesdays offer dinner at 6 and program at 6:45.

February is here and we move forward in faith embracing God’s blessings along with our discipleship.

See you in church,
Pastor John

January 2024

Happy New Year!!!
Who Knew? Who knew that we would be together in the year 2024? Yet, here we are. A new year together as God’s family in China Grove, North Carolina. We come together to worship, pray, praise God and support one another along life’s path. For three years and counting we have indeed been gathering together in the name of ministry and celebration. So, Let us step out together into 2024 with a resolution to continue serving God and neighbor to the best of our ability.

Our worship themes in January kick off with Epiphany on the 6th (the 12th day of Christmas) as we remember the witness of the 3 wise men who came seeking the King of the Jews. They were the first to proclaim the advent of His birth. Now it is our turn to have an Aha moment! (an Epiphany) and recognize Jesus as our king. Can you imagine these wise men bumping into King Herod and asking the location of the King of the Jews? The wise men passed over king Herod to continue their journey seeking The King. Herod was disrespected…and must have been furious. After all, the came offering gifts…but none for Herod.

Themes for Sunday begin to follow the important events in the life of Jesus. First, Jesus was baptized …at age 30 mind you. Then we hear about the call he made to his 12 disciples. We focus on the calling to 2 different sets of brothers and how they left everything in their lives to follow the teacher. And the month concludes with Jesus healing on the Sabbath day. An action that upset the religious leaders, but pay attention to the statement the demon makes on January 28. He exclaims, “I know who you are…Jesus of Nazareth…” The Demon knew right away. The disciples are just beginning their education about the identity of Jesus. They do not know for sure until after his death, resurrection and appearance to them.

So again I ask and ponder the question…who knew? Do you know who Jesus is? Do you and your family know? Do we as God’s Church know who Jesus really is? Do we know that He longs to greet us in His heavenly Kingdom? Do we offer ministry in His Name in all that we do? Remember, the demon knew right away. But for you and I…and his disciples it will take a lifelong journey of faith to make a confident proclamation.

The statement “I know who you are…” made all the difference to a demon. I wish it made the same difference to worshipers in China Grove. It’s been my experience as a pastor to sit with members at their bedside when the end times approach and remind them of our hope in Jesus. I remind them of the promise of God’s Word to “…Go and prepare a place for you so that I may take you to be with me…” I remind them because they have forgotten…or never fully accepted… or simply doubt the identity of Jesus.

Remember the words of the Wise Men… “We seek the King of the Jews”

Remember the words of the Angels… “…For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!...”

Remember the words of disciple Peter… “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

Remember… “His Body…broken for you, His blood, shed for YOU!”

Remember his simple call to… “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” You, each of you has been baptized in His name and adopted as His child. You are family. You know the truth about God’s greatest gift to humankind. Now, let us tell about this to the community. Let us show them by our actions and our LOVE, how
Christmas was intended to change the hearts and lives of mankind. When we tell the story we help others look forward to a new year with Christ.

Who knew?
You know.
In 2024 Let us all become as Luther said, “…be little Christs to the world.”

Happy New Year! Wait…aren’t we suppose to tell it on
the mountain? Which mountain? Can it be found on google?

See you in church.
Pastor John

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