Pastor Marc to FBC Diana Family (Jan 2015)

Happy New Year! I pray that you have been able to enjoy the Christmas season and that you have found solid ground beneath you as you have reestablished your daily routine. There is so much that seems naturally tied to the ending of one year and the beginning of another. The previous year’s experiences are usually inventoried and assessed, annual tax preparations begin, and New Year resolutions are made. This can be both disappointing and exciting. If last year wasn’t so wonderful for us, then we are able to see new possibilities and opportunities in the year ahead. If we find ourselves less advanced in one way or another than we had hoped to be at this time in life, then we may plan to make a more diligent attempt to achieve thoughtful goals over the next 12 months.

This particular turn of the calendar year brings much excitement to me. Over the last four months, I have experienced many ‘firsts’ with you. This is my first congregation to lead as pastor. We welcomed our first new church family members (Craig and Jennifer Dixon) since I became your pastor. I performed my first wedding ceremony as your pastor, and for the first time, I spoke at the funeral of a man whom God had placed under my pastoral care. I stood with a grieving family beside the bed of their recently deceased loved one for the first time about 8 weeks ago, and I joined another family in celebration of their newborn baby girl about that same time. Celebrating life and mourning death is not new to me, but doing so in the role of primary shepherd to those near me has incorporated a new dimension to these experiences.

All of this makes the thought of a new year with you quite exciting to me. While more weddings, funerals, baby deliveries, church family expansion, and life developments are sure to come, what excites me most is learning to better experience a truly Gospel-centered life together. Most of us probably understand the simple Gospel message (God is holy, and I have sinned, but Christ has lived and died for me.) but real and lasting Gospel-centered Community is experienced by living life in light of this good news – and living it together.

My passionate prayer (and I hope you will join me in praying for this) is that God would give you and me the kind of humble hearts that are willing to engage one another with honesty, sincerity, and compassion – real love. The “Love” verses, often quoted at wedding ceremonies, are actually written from the Apostle Paul as directives to a church congregation. His admonition for them is for us as well.

Paul says that we should “earnestly desire” the “higher gifts” and the “more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). Then he tells us that love for one another is the highest gift of God’s Spirit, and he explains what that kind of love looks like. He says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
May we share this kind of love with one another to the glory of God and for the sake of the Gospel.