I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
On several levels, I have had a challenging year due to my health. First, I was adapting to life with newly diagnosed asthma. Second as the year came to a close, I faced an undiagnosed health issue causing me to be less available and to cut down on my hours working. The health issue is still under evaluation, but hopefully, it will prove a distant memory soon.
What I won’t ever forget is the patience, care, and kindness so many of you shared with me and Kristine as we began to deal with this new “imprisonment.” I am inspired at how your council leadership and ministry team leaders arose to the challenge too, as they adapted to my limitations and strove to provide you the highest level of spiritual care, Christian education and worship. Messiah is a great example of what it means to be part of the priesthood of all believers and cooperative ministry.
I am proud to serve Christ with you, and our many successes this year make me prone to boast in the great work Christ is doing in you and through you. As mentioned during worship, our congregation is held up these days by the Bishop’s staff and others as a model of ministry within our synod. Those that handled our consolidation loans marveled at how we do more than most congregations ten times our size. It brings me joy to have people identify us as “that congregation that does so much.”
Yes, it is not an over exaggeration or nicety when I say I love you all. It makes me excited to look forward to what God’s grace will do in our lives next!
The above pastoral letter was originally published as part of Messiah Lutheran’s 2013 Annual Pastor’s Report. It has also been republished here and in Messiah’s newsletter, the Messenger. To view the entire issue of The Messenger or to see the full calendar of events, visit: http://www.mlcas.org
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.
© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.