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Pastor's Ponderings-February 2023

It’s hard to believe that I’m already beginning my sixth month as your pastor. The time has flown by. I think it’s in large part to your welcoming, gracious spirit and my being able to serve as a co-pastor with Pastor Margaret. A smooth transition certainly helps the time pass seamlessly.

In my first five months I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and hearing your stories, and I’m looking forward to visiting with many more of you over the next several months.

The more I learn about Covenant the more I hope that Covenant’s story is shared widely so that those who are searching for a deeper relationship with Christ and who are yearning to be a part of a Christian community can find us and find themselves in our story. To that end, we are working on revising our church website and livestreaming our worship services to YouTube as well as Zoom.

But even in an age of rapidly evolving technologies, the number one way that people learn about new faith communities is through word of mouth. When you overhear someone talking about faith or yearning to be a part of a community, please don’t be shy in sharing your own story with Covenant and how you found a faith home here.

And I suspect that others who may not be as quick to share about their faith or yearning to be a part of a community are nonetheless searching for deeper meaning and connection.

As I write this, my spirits have been badly shaken by two mass shootings that took place just days apart. I read my news notifications with horror as I learned how Lunar New Year Celebration in Monterrey Park, California ended tragically with several people killed and wounded. And then, closer to home, geographically, another shooter killed some of his co-workers in Half Moon Bay. Each time these shootings happen my prayers become monosyllabic: “Why?, Why?, Why?

Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount that “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). With the mass shootings and a war in Ukraine that is quickly approaching its one-year mark with no end in sight, it is hard to see the evidence for that. As Garrison Keillor once quipped, “It may be true that the meek will inherit the earth, but so far they only have North Dakota!” . . . And yet I suspect that even in North Dakota one would be hard-pressed to show that the meek have truly inherited the land.

Biblical scholar and retired preaching professor Tom Long points out that many of the Beatitudes begin in the present tense (“Blessed are . . .”) but then shift to the future tense when explaining why each group of people will be blessed (“for the will . . .). What this indicates is that the church is joyful community, but the source of its joy is not they live easy lives in a carefree world but that their ultimate trust is in God’s coming kingdom or realm. The church lives its life in the midst of an ambiguous human history in which human progress is far from guaranteed. But the church also sees signs of God’s realm in the here and now. The church can see God at work in our world even when much of the evidence might suggest otherwise.

My prayer for Covenant is that we will continue to be a community of hope in the midst of the numerous life challenges we all face. I hope that we will continue to be peacemakers in the face of injustice. And I hope that we will continue to extend hospitality to others as if each new guest were Jesus in disguise.

As I write, 2023 expands out in front of us. As I write, we pray to God that we are faithful in the year ahead. As I write, our ministry is strong and healthy. Let us be grateful to our Lord who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. May our prayer continue to be for a faithful and thankful response to the grace which God has freely given to all of us.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jack


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