During 2021, we focused on the theme of “Experiencing Renewal in Jesus.” I certainly hope that you did experience that this past year – Christ’s renewing work in your life through his Word and promises, through His Sacraments and prayer, and through participation in His church. In Christ, you are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and He continues to renew you day by day as you live by faith in Him (2 Cor 4:16).
As we begin this New Year, I’d also like us to consider a new theme for our ministry and life together as God’s people at St. Matthew: “Connecting with Christ and with One Another.” Connection is one of Christ’s great gifts to us. It is also a great need of ours as human beings.
Some wisdom I’ve gained from the participants in the Sober Eyes support group which meets at St. Matthew is that “connection is the opposite of addiction.” (Think about that statement a little bit.) Folks who struggle with some form of addiction need more than to simply stop the addictive behavior. Instead, the addictive behavior needs to be replaced with something positive: namely, healthy connections with others.
On a wider scale, disconnection from others affects us all. Disconnection from others contributes to the polarization and divisiveness that is so prevalent in our society. Disconnection is experienced as loneliness, something that affects every generation, both young and old. Disconnection also affects our wholistic health. When we are less connected with others, we’ll likely experience more struggles in our spiritual, physical, and emotional health as well.
God created us as social beings. He made us to connect with Him and with one another. Though our sinfulness is the root cause of our disconnect with God and with others, His Son Jesus Christ entered our world to be the Great Connector! Christ reconnects us with God through His life, death, and resurrection and through our Baptism and faith in Him. That is the Christian Gospel, but that is not the only way that Christ reconnects us. He also connects us with one another, our fellow Christians, as part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-27). As members of Christ’s body, His church, I need you and you need me. Your fellow Christians can be a blessing to you and you to them. Christ has brought us together in and around Him so that we can support and build one another up in our Christian faith and life.
Let’s connect in 2022! Whether in-person or through technology, let’s seek more and deeper connections with one another as Christ’s people, while also maintaining a strong connection with Him through Scripture and worship and prayer. Little ways of connecting with one another can sometimes go a long way. A simple phone call, a card in the mail, an encouraging message on social media, or other simple steps can help strengthen connections with your fellow church members and with other neighbors and friends. Also, if at any time you’d like to visit with me, receive pastoral care, or have individual communion, please contact me so that we can connect.
Let’s thank the Lord this year for the connections Christ has established – the connection we will enjoy with God for all eternity, and the connection He blesses us with in His church, both here in time and yet to come in eternity. And let’s each commit to doing what we can to build upon those connections, both with Christ and with one another!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Kory Janneke
Posted on January 06, 2022 4:26 PM