Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Just before Christmas Ann and I were talking about what gifts we might like from our daughters. We, like many of you, are at a point in life that there is little that we need, so I said that what would be nice is a book of family pictures. As most of you will remember, our whole family and many of our extended family were here last July to celebrate our 40th anniversary.
Well, the first Christmas gift we opened was a large family picture that will soon be hanging in a prominent place in our home. That was followed by a large book that contained every picture from our July 4th photo session at Lemon Creek Winery. That was followed by a set of coasters of assorted photos and finally a calendar with family pictures on each page. As they communicated with each other, each chose a gift that reflected our blessings in our family and grandchildren.
One of the Christ students commented to me one day about how much I enjoy talking about my family. It is true for God has blessed me with Christian parents, wife and children, And now we are blessed by the next generation who have been baptized into Christ and are children of God.
All this this was a matter of reflection following our Christmas Eve and Day services. Those present might have asked, “Who is missing?” That was certainly my question. And the answer that came to me was simply, “Family.” What do I mean? First, looking at my own family I saw just Ann and me. In previous years one or more of our daughters and their families had been able to join us for Christmas. Many of you could look at your family to also see who was missing. And one can go a step further to note the family members who not only were absent from the Christmas service, but also for those who have been missing for a greater period of time. Each of these persons is one for whom Christ died. They are of concern to me and the object of my prayers.
So, what is the answer? First, I am resolved to be a better pastor to all this year in working to not only pray for, but also to contact and visit with these family members. But I know that I cannot do this alone. I need to know of specific concerns and needs that some might have. From time to time some have commented about seeing someone in the store or another location. Words of invitation and encouragement are needed whenever there is opportunity. Prayers are needed at all times. We include each member of St. Paul in our weekly prayers with a focus on one family each week. Together we can work to bring our Brothers and Sisters in Christ back to worship Him. As Saint Paul wrote, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27) We pray that many remember God’s love for them in Christ.
Praying for the Family with you,
Pastor Daniel Barz