Many of you were here on Christmas Eve when we heard the stories of Brian, Chris, Franki, and Summe. That’s the sort of life change in Christ your giving ultimately leads to. That’s what you’re investing in! (If you missed that service, go to our online archives to watch it – or listen to the podcast episode Why?)
As I look back over the past year, I see the hand of God at work in our midst in many places, including the following:
I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the faithful ways God has shepherded us this past year. Your staff and Session work hard to serve God and this church family. This was a year in which God’s leadership, his shepherding and providing for us, was especially pronounced. During a time when many churches are still struggling to find their way out of the confusion and disruption that came with Covid, I see God – by his grace –leading us forward in beautiful ways.
One of the gifts of the past year is our new discipleship approach which centers on the Thrive! experience. We’ve had three groups take that journey to learn what it means to thrive in Christ at Covenant. I’ve heard such great things from those who’ve gone through this new entryway into the life and ministry of the church. I’m grateful for how God led us to its creation.
Another incredible gift of 2022 is the near completion of our new spaces – The Hub, The Landing, The Corner, the Family Lobby, plus lots of fresh changes in the Sanctuary. Wow! I don’t know which is greater: the changes to our interior or your generous giving. New names, new floors, walls, and ceilings, new lighting, new furniture, new signs (coming!), new artwork – all these mean places to grab time with a friend, to study, meet, and connect. I’ve loved watching the family begin to live into these spaces!
Here’s another gift from the past year – the many newcomers to the church family! By God’s grace, it seems to me you have discovered something here that speaks to the desires of your soul, and you’ve jumped into our church family asking things like: How do I grow closer to God? How do I put Jesus first in my life and find my satisfaction in him? In a world torn by division and animosity, how do I live a life of love? Where can I truly be part of a family of faith, one I’m blessed to give to and receive from? What a lot you bring to us!
Four things I consistently hear when folks come worship with us for the first time:
- I felt so warmly welcomed by the church family.
- I experienced the presence of God in worship in a powerful way.
- I love this church’s commitment to teaching biblical truth with relevance.
- And I’m drawn to this church’s commitment to a life of love.
I’m also seeing us more deeply engage with our calling to live a life of love by loving Jesus, loving one another, and pouring out God’s love on the world. I hear more tales of your efforts to show love to your neighbors and the wonderful and sometimes unexpected things that leads to!
Another crucial thing is our remarkable unity during a season of polarizing and splintering in the wider church and culture. I’ve been rereading Tolkien’s masterful Lord of the Rings. One line that stuck out deals with the evil one’s schemes to have us turn and bicker with each other instead of uniting and fighting for the real cause. That has been a sad side story in the American church in the past three years. I’m so grateful God has protected and preserved and even strengthened our unity during that time.
Related to that: one of my great joys is that we continue to make the move from being a congregation (a group of individuals who congregate in the same place and time) to becoming a family. And what a family it is! More and more we are eager to get here and reluctant to leave, lingering to enjoy one another.
Those are some of the things that move me to deep gratitude. What about you?
This is an awesome church family with incredible elders and a great staff. Most importantly, we love and follow and serve a great King. May His gracious hand continue to be upon us as we come into the new year.