Summer is often a time for vacations and relaxing, sitting by the pool, going to the lake, connecting with friends, or reading a good book. This has been a whirlwind of a summer! As we march into August, the routines of Fall are just around the corner. Are you ready? As I reflect on this past summer, I am filledwith a true sense of joy and thanksgiving. One tthing is clear: Redeemer is a great church! God is doing mighty things!
- Redeemer sent 12 participants (9 youth, 3 adults) to the 2016 National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. This is the largest group we’ve sent to date. God worked mightily in and through our group through this experience. Words cannot express my sincere thanks for all who made this trip possible. Your prayers, financial support, and encouragement are what made this the mountaintop experience it was for all who went. It was an eternity-shaping week, for sure! The next Gathering is slated for the Holy Lands—no, I mean, Minneapolis, 2019!!!—in the “new” Vikings Stadium opening this year. It will be an incredible venue for the next Gathering!
- Once again, Vacation Bible School, was a huge success! If you haven’t had a chance, check out the summary video of VBS on our church website (RedeemerRolla/VBS). Thanks to Cheryl and Brenda for once again doing a superb job in leading the morning and evening programs. I saw more new guests and volunteers this year than we have had in previous years. God is doing great things through this outreach ministry! In light of next year’s 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017, the theme is “Mighty Fortress”. Great things to come!
- Bible Study continues to grow and thrive. I was encouraged this past Sunday to see a packed Conference Room for Ron’s class on stewardship. God has blessed us with many faithful leaders who lead us to the feet of Jesus, sharing the mysteries of God’s Word. One thing is clear, being in Scripture is a priority for Redeemer; it is the foundation and life of who we are.
- Personally, I am really enjoying our summer journey through the Book of Romans on Sundays in our current sermon series: “Roman Holiday”. I have been challenged and encouraged by Paul’s words to stay connected to Jesus and His Body as well as his persistent call for us to “be the Gospel change” in the places the Lord has placed us. Where may God be leading you to “be the Gospel change?”
- The Vision Committee continues to regularly meet and wrestle with next steps as a church. We look forward to the future months as the Lord narrows our thoughts and dreams into a focused vision as a church. With the guidance of Stuart Brassie from District, our goal is to create an executable, stepped out 3-5 year vision plan for Redeemer which will be presented to Voters in November for discussion and consideration. In the meantime, I challenge you to join the conversation: Provide feedback in the Vision Box located in the Narthex, stay engaged with the updates found in the weekly and monthly newsletter, and explore the page we’ve created on our church website. Both Church Council and the Vision Committee are striving hard to be as transparent as possible throughout the visioning process. If you have a question or comment, feel free to email Eric or myself, and we will incorporate your thoughts into the committee’s discussion.
Bottom line, we (or I should say “I”) don’t say this often enough, but “I love you, my Redeemer church family.” I am truly blessed and humbled by your deep passion for Jesus. I see this passion through our worship and through your servant heart. Whether mowing the lawn, taking care of flower beds, volunteering at VBS or Sunday KidZone, giving your time to serve on a board or church event, or serving Sundays as a scripture reader, greeter, or on the computer. I am humbled by your love for Jesus and love for one another. I witnessed your love again and again first-hand this summer through the sampling of ministries highlighted above. You are a living witness of what it means to “gather, grow, and go” in where God has planted you. What makes Redeemer the great church it is are the people! If you are reading this, this is you! I am blessed to call Redeemer my church family—the place I call home—a family who sticks together through thick and thin, a family who encourages, loves, and accepts one another in the diverse ways He has shaped us to be, living out the verse: “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Friends can be family, too. It is a privilege and joy to be your pastor. Daily I thank my God for you!
As I close, I am reminded of the words Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. They are fitting words for how I feel about you, me fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, spoken from Paul to a church whom the Spirit birthed through him, and thus, a church whom he considered close to his heart. Joy is written all over this letter, a joy for Jesus and for one another.
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
In Christ alone!