Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reaching Out to the Nuns?

Merry Christmas!

What a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ birth we had this past weekend at New Day Church! About 20 kids ages 4 – 15 poured their hearts and spirits into sharing a message of love and hope Saturday evening and Sunday morning (Dec. 19-20) to all who came. The story revolved around 2 little guys who were trying their best to come up with the BEST present for Jesus’ birthday, only to be disappointed at every turn. In the end, they discover that what Jesus really wants is their/our hearts, and the best gift we can all give is ourselves! Through all the glitches of missed lines, forgotten solos, late music cues, etc., etc., etc…. the charm of the smiles, energy and simple faith of the kids was spirit-lifting to everyone. The congregation left with bows pinned to lapels and a reminder that WE (our hearts, our hands, our feet, our voices) are the most important gift we can give to the world in Jesus’ name.

The attendance total for the weekend was 190 (which was GREAT! Our largest weekend thus far), but even more impactful, were the interactions we had following the program each day. The kids touched our hearts, but what brought tears to my eyes were the multiple parents/grandparents/aunts, etc. of various kids who sought us out afterward, to thank us for New Day’s ministry and to share how they thought they would never see their families participating in church. Some had been praying for years for this very moment!

And isn’t THAT EXACTLY what we were called to Big Lake to do?! In our Bishop’s words: go, find the “NONES” (not the NUNS) - the ones who claim no church affiliation on census forms. Find them, love them, create a space that allows them to claim Christ, to change that “none” into joy and hope that comes from faith and community. Many times I am overwhelmed by the enormity of this task, by financial concerns, by low attendance at worship, classes, events. Although we have had a sense that New Day is impacting lives, this experience is a shining star of encouragement lighting the dark night of doubt.

With the encouragement, however, comes an unexpected weight of responsibility! New Day is becoming important to people besides just Jim and I! Oh Dear, and Praise the Lord!! (If I sound confused, that’s exactly how I feel!) I still don’t know how we will continue to finance this ministry, and this still seems like an impossible task! But somehow, God is using New Day to reach at least a few of the people we intended to reach. Lives, hearts, families are being touched, changed, renewed. They are finding God’s home at New Day.

Please pray for all these wonderful families and all the families who are still searching. Please pray for all the mundane, logistical details to fall into place, so God’s amazing work can continue in Big Lake at New Day United Methodist Church.

May the New Year bring New Days filled with God’s hope, joy, peace and love to us all!

Janet :->

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