"Simon Says"

    

My Beloved Kinfolk in Christ,

 Coming through the cold and snow of December and January was a return to normal for Sarah, Lucy, and me, but a new experience in a lot of ways for Finn and Arlo. I remember many days as a kid, teen, and young adult navigating through five inches of new snow, and -40° wind-chills. I have been reflecting on what it means to come home, without actually being home. This area is so much more like Minnesota than Ohio, and yet, it still isn't the same. The old adage is that we can never truly go home; anyhow, meaning mostly that even if we return to the same physical places, our memories don't reflect the new reality of our ever -evolving lives. I often wonder about this, as I have greater opportunity to return to places I once frequently visited, and as I contemplate that not only are the people I see there different, but also the experience of seeing the places with young children, is so very different.

Sometimes, this feeling of difference leads us to mourn for the past, to wish we could always feel the same way we did the first time we had an experience. I think of how so many things from my youth have changed in the past 30 years, and it’s easy to see that while many things have changed for the better, there are still many ways in which I feel like a stereotypical old man standing on the porch and yelling at the kids to get off of my lawn.

It is inevitable, though, that things will change. We change. From one moment to the next, you are not the same person who began reading this, just as surely as I am not the same person I was when I began typing it. Often the changes are almost imperceptible, barely nudging us to see it as change—but it is still there. As we seek to build our relationships with God and each other, I invite you to look for those small subtle changes, to see how you are being nudged to change in response to the ways that God's love through the work of the Holy Spirit in everyone's lives, is changing you, minute by minute, hour by hour. As we are made new, so too can our outreaches and ministries. As we seek to be a safe, welcoming place, where all people can be their truest selves, we must all see the ways in which we have been changed over the course of our lives and be able to offer that same opportunity to every person who walks through our doors.

As we emerge from the deep winter that Wisconsin so often provides us, who will we choose to be? How are we being called to follow God? In what new ways can we offer the love and light of God to our friends, neighbors, and strangers? How can we deepen our connection with God so that we can continue to grow?

I am hoping to have an informal meeting in February to begin to address some of my primary first year goals, looking at an ongoing men's fellowship group and looking at expanding our programming for youth and families in our community. I hope you will join me as we look to the future.

                                                                           Yours in Christ, Pastor Bryan