Dear Members and Friends of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for you and the life we share as disciples of Jesus. Thank you for the generous Christmas gift that you gave to me and my family – what an amazing surprise! I am humbled and encouraged by your generosity. As we approach the three year anniversary of our arrival in Rockford, we are thankful for our church family and our city, in which we all may flourish and grow.
In the New Testament, there are two main words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos time is clock time, passing time, chronology moving unceasingly from past, to present, and towards future. Kairos time is eventful time – the right time, the time for action, the time for God’s Spirit to move in and through us. When Jesus says. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news,” (Mar 1:15) that’s kairos time.
As creatures, we live in chronos time: we are aware of growing older, of passing time (‘How time flies!’), of changes over time in our community and in our world. Some changes are good, some not so good – but change happens, time passes, whether we want it to or not. So, for example, our neighborhood changes, our church members change and grow, our context changes. We have new challenges and new opportunities. As Mindy said in conversation recently, our mission of Living and Sharing Jesus does not change, but our situation does change. Therefore, we need to continually revise how we live out our mission in light of changing times. That’s chronos – and we ignore it at our peril.
But we are not alone in facing chronos, the passing and changing times. God is with us, God’s Spirit rests on us and moves through us. Through God’s Holy Spirit – in prayer and meditation, in worship and Scripture reading – we catch glimpses of kairos time, God’s time. As we live Jesus – indwelling, meditating, worshiping, serving together in community – we discern not just chronos time, but kairos time: what God is doing now, and how we can cooperate with God in God’s mission in the world. We discern the times, and live not in a nostalgic (or bitter) past or an anxious future, but live joyfully now, love our neighbors now, do now what needs to be done for the sake of others and ourselves.
There is more detailed information in our annual report, but here are just a few highlights of where we are finding God at work, and where we are plugging in with God’s mission now and in 2014:
- Helping lead our new neighborhood association, including putting together a Transform Rockford event at West Middle School February 6, 2014.
- A successful West Side Day Camp in 2013, with another planned for 2014.
- Growing connections with Welsh Elementary and the Fairgrounds Housing Project.
- Initiating the Unbinding the Gospel journey in Lent of 2014.
- Encouraging growth in stewardship of our resources for God’s mission, especially through the Congregational Resource Event in March 2014.
- Continuing our partnerships with RALM in Becca’s Closet, the Park Players, and other ministries.
- Working with other congregations on growing our youth and confirmation ministries.
- Expanding our adult education to partner with other congregations at Katie’s Cup.
Living and Sharing Jesus in 2014,
Pastor Eric Lemonholm