On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

– From My Hope is Built on Nothing Less ELW 596

I want to start this years report with my final paragraph from last years report:

I am looking forward to the day when vaccinations have been given, when we don’t have to limit space in the sanctuary, when we don’t have to wear masks and when we can sing together again. I believe the day will come but I’m done trying to guess when it will be. Until then, I continue to pray for each of you. We will get through this time, we will have learned some new things, and we will continue to worship as God’s people of Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Looking back, some of my hopes of a year ago have been fulfilled while others still remain illusive. In those words, I can hear the hope for the future. And, I still have hope. But my hope is not found in a human institution or even human progress. As the song begins, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” I think this is a constant struggle for many of us. We want to turn to our own abilities or the ability of others to solve all of the problems we might face but we don’t turn to the one who has redeemed us.

We have many choices each day. We can choose what to focus on. If you watch too much TV, the focus might be pretty grim. If instead, we choose to focus on what God has promised to us, then the things happening around us may feel less like sinking sand. I choose to stand on the solid rock. I choose to see how God is active in our congregation and in the community around us. I choose to listen closely for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I choose to have hope because my hope is built on Christ.

I will also admit that sometimes I can lose sight of this. I have moments when the days get me down. I am thankful for this congregation, for those of you willing to share your struggles and your dreams. For those who show me the signs of life when I can’t see them. We need each other. We need to remind each other of God’s presence in our midst. We need to listen to the nudging of the Spirit to reach out to one another when a person comes to mind. We need to be the body of Christ together, valuing each and every member because each and every one of you is essential to this body.

As God’s people, gathered here at Bethesda, we continue to do God’s work. We have much to be thankful for and we have many opportunities before us to continue to learn and grow in our faith. Reach out to one another when the ground feels like sinking sand. Throw a rope or grab the hand of someone sinking when you are feeling secure on the solid rock. Together, we will get through the struggles we face. My hope is built on nothing less.

God’s Peace,
Pastor Steve