It’s the middle of January as I write this. I’m always amazed at how quickly the time goes. It seems like just a few days ago we started the “All IN” focus. For the past four months, the Sunday morning prayer group has continued to INtercede for (pray for) the people you wrote down. I trust you are continuing to pray daily for those you named on your index card who need to know how much God loves them and become a part of a community of faith. I pray you are investing in their lives and that God will give you opportunities to share your faith and invite them to something at church. If you weren’t here last September, you can get involved by writing the names of some people you know who don’t know Christ’s love and/or are not part of a church family on two cards or even scraps of paper. Keep one for yourself and pray for those people every day. Give one to me and I will add your names to the list we are already praying for. (First names are good enough.) Those who already gave me their card can always add another name and give me another card if there are others you feel called to pray for. Then take time to invest yourself in their lives. Watch and see what God will do. Remember, this is not something we do for a couple months but a way of living out our faith in Christ every day.

In February our thoughts turn to love (probably thanks to Hallmark, candy companies, and jewelers). The greatest love, of course, is the love God has for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11-12) In the Gospel according to John, Jesus commands, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

As Christians we are called to love which includes radical hospitality—welcoming the strangers that God sends our way and INvesting in them as we do our own family and friends. This is not always easy because our natural tendency is to stick with the familiar. On Sundays before and after worship be vigilant in keeping your eyes open for those who are standing alone, whether they are new to the church or have been here for a while. Go talk with them, even if you have to catch up with your friends later. Introduce them to others. Actively listen to them. Also, pay attention to those who usually sit around you and if they aren’t there, give them a call during the week. Come to the community dinner, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know yet, and join them for a meal. Yet, radical hospitality is not limited to the church building. Practice hospitality wherever you are letting Christ’s love shine through you. I’m sure you can think of many ways to extend hospitality and Christ’s love to others. The important thing is to be aware of those around us as beloved Children of God and treat them accordingly.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Anne

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