Looking Back

Jeff ShearierBecause Thanksgiving Day falls in November, we look back on the year and reflect on the places and the times in which the LORD has blessed us. Some of those places—and some of those times—may not have looked or felt like blessings at the
time. If you remember your grade school American history class, the year the Pilgrims had lived through had been difficult—yet as they reflected, they were moved to give
thanks to God for His provision and His mercy. You and I can follow the example of those Pilgrims and give God thanks that He brought us through this past year by His provision and blessed us with His mercy.

On the church calendar, the Church Year ends in November. Probably no one
is having any New Church Year parties to ring in the new year, but we could. The last
Sunday has been named “Christ the King” Sunday to remind us that both now and at
the end of it all, Jesus is King. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Thanksgiving and
Christ the King fall near each other in November. Because Christ is our King, we
have had the hope and faith to live through those difficult times and live in those hard
places. So, we look back and reflect.

However, like the Pilgrims and like the Church Year, we don’t stay in November,
looking backward. The Advent season begins and pulls us forward into the
anticipation of Christ’s birth and coming again. After their feast, the Pilgrims no doubt
got ready for the coming winter and next spring. We move forward as Jesus leads us.

As we move forward into Bethlehem’s 57th year of serving Jesus and our
community, Jesus leads us forward, the Shepherd ever leading His sheep. We will
continue to work together with our God and with each other, connecting people with
Jesus in worship, through discipleship, in relationships and into service. We will
continue to seek to invite our community through our ECC and Kindergarten, through
our work together with organizations like Love INC and the Northwest District of the
LCMS.

When I served in Saint Louis, Missouri, I had the opportunity to serve an
aging parish that stood on a busy street. We asked people at the bus stop in front of the church if they knew where St. Peter Lutheran Church was. Only a few did. It would
be my hope that never can be said of Bethlehem. We want our neighbors to know we
are here. Jesus leads us out into our community.

Looking back and giving thanks is a good idea. Taking time to thank God for
His provision and mercy in Jesus Christ this past year is awesome. But Jesus calls us
forward—forward to Christmas; forward into 2015; forward into our neighborhood;
forward…to Him. I’m looking forward to working together with Him and with you.

Joy in the journey together,

Pastor Jeff Shearier