Wow! Between severe weather (decidedly sub-zero temperatures on December 18) and me being under the weather (decidedly sub-par health on December 25), it’s been a while since I’ve written a Sunday Morning Update like this. For that matter, it had thus been a while since I had even led a service, so I was actually feeling a bit discombobulated up there this week.
But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t had a lot going on (besides half of our church family either traveling and/or home sick with the stomach bug that has ravaged the Peoria area). For instance, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve service, and a beautiful Christmas Day service last week. Though I was on hand for the Christmas Eve service, I was forced to miss the Christmas Day service -- which I think ended up blessing people far more than if I’d been around. I don’t say that self-disparagingly, but rather to highlight that my absence forced others to step up to the plate and share, and it also opened time up for the Worship Team to lead the whole church family in a round of Christmas hymn requests that sounds like it truly touched a number of people.
This week, we held our annual -- and remarkably well-attended -- New Year’s Eve Game Night down in the Fellowship Hall. For six hours, we ate awesome finger foods, interacted with one another, and played a lot of really great games (ask me sometime, and I can tell you who among our church family are the best at bald-faced lying in Spyfall...). Year after year, I’m reminded that this is more than just a time to be silly with one another -- it’s a time to build community with one another. It really is like a giant family gathering, and that’s precisely what we’re looking for in a New Year’s Eve party like this.
And the next morning, we came together for worship. As we always do on the first Sunday of the year, we made this week an emphasis on being a community together. We shared interactive community time within the service, we recited the Apostles’ Creed together as a community (which also ties us to the community of the church family worldwide and throughout time), we shared the Lord’s Supper together as a community meal (which brings us into communion with one another, but also with God, as we remember what He has done for and within each one of us), and we shared our testimonies with one another as a community about what God has been doing in our lives over the past year.
Personally, I always find Testimony Sundays to be a joy. The warmth and transparency that our family members share with one another is moving and infectious. It’s always such a sweet opportunity to hear the hearts of our fellow FCCers sharing about their confidence and faith in God, even in the midst of heartbreaking trials and difficulties in their lives... and I can’t recall a Testimony Sunday when at least one person’s sharing didn’t bring the rest of the congregation to tears at some point.
We look forward to God’s leading and provision in 2017...