God is Good! It is my good pleasure to share how we have seen the Spirit working in our church this Easter season. After the long cold winter we have been blessed with not only the coming of Spring, but of new life to our church. There is so much to celebrate that I probably will forget to mention something. Please see this as a Good thing! Some of the highlights are:
1. Worship! It was amazing to see so many people in church this Easter! The growth of our Worship Team was on display as they led us in songs that were passionately and excellently offered up to God. We are blessed have Jon Torgrimsen lead us and the team and we are seeing the fruit of the good work he is faithfully doing for us day after day. More people need to worship with us, because they can come to Jesus through the good work of all who work to build up our worship. Faith can be awakened and strengthened.
2. Mission! Our food ministry to Springfield had totally turned around the reputation in our community. I had a man stop me on the street last Sunday as I rode my bike with my son and tell me about how he had heard that we in Holy Cross are doing great things. Now this is not why we serve, we serve because Jesus served, and we are called to be a blessing to our neighbors. Otherwise we are just another club and not the church. We can create space in our church and activities for more people to help out serving Springfield. One of the blessings of serving is it can heal those who do the serving. Having purpose can help make people more appreciative of the good gifts God has given them. We can be a bridge between those in the community who want to help and those who need it.
3. Kids! Notice all the new kids lately. Holy Cross has always had a heart for children and we are seeing lots of new faces in our Sunday School, we've got 5 high schoolers playing in our worship team or helping out with media and sound upstairs, ten middle schoolers in confirmation. Our Christian Nursery School is having an amazing year! With new programs to serve the parents and children of our community (this should be seen as mission too!) More kids need to come along with us because in a world without purpose, those who mentor our children can share with them how God in Jesus Christ has a purpose for their lives.
5. Community! Thanks to the diligence of our community action team people our fellowship/coffee hour after church had taken place Sunday after Sunday. If you remember how it was a few years back when we would not always have it, this is an amazing blessing. I have noticed people are staying a long time after worship to savor the relationships the Spirit is building. Our Mardi Gras/ Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and upcoming picnic will provide more opportunities to build relationships. We need to expand the circle, because hey! there are a lot of lonely people out there and God says it is not good for anyone to be alone.
7. Prayer! Holy Cross has always been a place of deep prayer and it continues to be so. Open your eyes on Sunday and witness people praying for each other all over our church! We are not church who leaves the prayer up to the pastor alone, but engages the entire community. While we continue to pray deeply for Gianna Torgrimsen and Tom Nolz for their healing, please know that one of the joys of serving Holy Cross is all the stories of answered prayer I hear. This past month three stories of God providing deep healing have been shared with me. Prayer gives, healing, hope, peace, direction and inspiration to our lives. It helps God change things in us. More people need the gift of prayer, more people need to learn how to pray, we can do our part to fill this need.
As I described these seven signs of how the Holy Spirit is working to build up our congregation, please notice that I tried to make the case in each instance of how these things that God is doing for us can be a blessing not just for us, but for our neighbors as well. To me the most amazing part of our redevelopment has been Holy Cross's restructuring of things so I can can concentrate more intently on the things that God has called me to: preaching, teaching, equipping, modeling discipleship and providing Spiritual direction. Each passing month I am able to spend more and more time meeting with people in town, community leaders, families who send their kids to our school, people I meet in Dunkin Donuts, to bring Christ to them in my humble way. I am grateful for this opportunity, I need to thank Jim Donaldson, Steve Bertschy especially, for their daily contributions to help get things off my plate so I can do what God called me to do. Lots of others have helped and we have really had a culture change in our congregation where we are working together more effectively as a church. I praise God for this.
But now I need to ask for your help and support in these areas.
1. Talk about Holy Cross and share this message with every person you can. We have Good News to share! I am out in the community for our church and I need you with me as well. I can only do so much, and people will often respond better to your impressions than mine. I am the pastor I am supposed to think my church is great. No one thinks that about you.
2. Support our church by carving out some time to show up and help out. Start with coming to church more often. Our church life is better when you are here, and I am betting your life will be better too. Move up to helping out the ministry and mission of our church by plugging into an area of service. Pray for me and the mission of Holy Cross every day.
3. Give a financial offering to God through Holy Cross. Your contributions will help us do God's work. My thoughts on stewardship are simple, God has blessed you and you can use your blessings to bless others. We are blessing people with the work we are doing as a church following Christ. We will be pledging later on this Spring to our annual fund. If you have never pledged before I ask that you prayerfully commit to trying. We bring Jesus Christ to people in your neighborhood, we shepherd your neighbor's children, we pray for and feed your neighbors in their time of need. We show love to the people you love. Yu-Mei and I tithe 10 percent of our income and God not only provides, but blesses us through this. The real upside is that this money we give does God's good work in Springfield and beyond.
Please pray on these points and act on them. Please also give thanks to God for the incredible work he has done in us and will do in the future. See you in Worship and at the Rock Cafe next Saturday May you be blessed this day.