Luke 3: 21-22 21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well

pleased.”

Have you ever waited for good news (or perhaps bad) to be fulfilled? Maybe it’s been as a student waiting for an exam score, or as an adult getting a performance review and hopefully a pay raise or promotion. As we get older, we might be waiting for health news—lab results, potential remedies, etc. It is especially hard to wait when we really want something good to happen and to be here now. Well, that is what we are going to hear from Scripture the month of January in worship as the Gospel announces Jesus as here and now, fulfilling the words of God through John the Baptist. Quite quickly we will have gone from God sending a baby named Jesus to all the earth, to His baptism and words from heaven affirming that He indeed is the One who has been sent—the One who comes after John. The good news is fulfilled and so the journey of Jesus on earth begins.

As people of the church, we might be waiting for our new Young Adult Pastor, our new services to start, our Pastor to get better at cornhole (like that will happen!). Waiting is difficult, and at times we may not see the result of what we do or say in faith. But that does not mean that we stop or give up. Jesus comes in baptism calling us to remember the promises of God through Him. Jesus calls those first disciples and says, “follow me.” They don’t ask where. Even though we have the advantage and know who Jesus is, sometimes we don’t realize the good news of Christ, not seeing all that is being done in His name in this place, and in our relationships and communities. As the New Year comes it is indeed a time to reflect, to praise God, and to give thanks. The good news is here, and we are being called to follow—with faith, trust and love. Knowing that it doesn’t depend on us, but rather Christ is working in us to do God’s will. Just as Mary pronounced AMEN to the Angel Gabriel, so, too, do we daily commit our wills, ourselves, and our lives to God. I pray in this new year that we commit to remain faithful, trusting God’s outcomes, and moving forward in Christ’s Name. Amen.

May the new year be filled with God’s peace for you and yours,

Pastor Tom

Whatever Happened To Kindness?

Remember the comic strip B.C. from several years ago? The cartoonist, Johnny Hart, has the character Wiley searching for answers to one of life’s great questions. In the first panel Wiley asks, “Whatever happened to kindness?”. He then proceeds to write the following verse:

“Why do people go to the trouble to give other people some trouble?

Why do they burst someone’s bubble, when they know it comes back to them double?

Why do we go to the effort to hurt someone we actually love?

Can’t we say something sweet ‘stead of curt?

A push only leads to a shove.

Why can’t we treat other folks with respect; with a smile or a kind word or two?

Treat them with honor, the way you’d expect they should act when they’re dealing with you.

Why can’t we overlook others’ mistakes?

We’ve all surely been there before.

Love and forgiveness is all that it takes to boot Satan’s butt out the door.”

In the New Year, let’s all make a resolution to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

Go ahead – try it! It will shock you only a bit. I am sure it will astound others, too, and I am certain it will startle the world around you. Go ahead, practice kindness anyway. The world could use a jolt like this!

Waiting is a good thing. If you’re still waiting, it means you haven’t settled in. If you’re still waiting, it means you haven’t given up. If you’re still waiting, you stand an excellent chance of seeing Jesus, “the bright morning star,” the promise for those awake and waiting. Are you fiercely waiting?

Pastor Dotty Hartzell