Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I’m thankful for God and you.

We’re now entering our second round of COVID lockdown restricting our gatherings and social engagements. This has been tough on our church. Before the pandemic it felt like we had a lot of momentum coming into the spring but now if feels like we have been set back at least a year.

Social Distanced Kids
Social Distanced Kids

We’ve had to re-figure out how to do church, music, childcare, refreshments, small groups and everything else at least a couple of times in order to honor God first and foremost but also respect our authorities and be a good witness to the watching neighborhood.

Though even through this hardship we have continued to pursue connection and community. God has brought us together as a church family and we have worked to maintain those ties. Here are some events I’m thankful for that have kept up our faith family relationships.

Family Hike

We took advantage of the outdoors to connect with regulars and new folks with a summer all church camping trip. This was a fun event for families to get some quality time together, kids to play in the woods, the whole crew to hike (photo right) and gather around campfires.

With the success of the camping trip we thought we’d get a men’s campout in the fall. We took this time to cast some vision, hang out together and get away for some solitude with God. We got a great response from the men and I think everyone really enjoyed the time.

Following on the heels of the men’s time the women planned their retreat and ended up having it in town here right before more gathering restrictions came into play. The women took a similar activity track to the men with a sharing time and pursuing alone time with God. They also had a wonderful time with a lot of engagement from the ladies.

We’re definitely going to have to make these events a regular part of the Living Hope calendar.

Connection Days Outdoor Teaching

COVID changed our annual Connection Days event fairly dramatically as we moved all of our teaching, music, fellowship and meals outdoors. This time is focused on connecting to God, to each other and to our city. We originally hoped to do some evangelism, service and outreach in the community but ended up taking small groups to various places around the city to pray for the lost.

Through the majority of the pandemic we’ve been able to gather in twos or threes for coffee, a walk or Bible study. I’m still connecting with a number of men one on one to share life, sharpen one another and pursue God. I treasure these times and see God using me in their lives and them in mine.

Trunk or Treat
Trunk or Treat

Finally, we did get to host a trunk or treat event for kids from the neighborhood to dress up in costumes and get candy in our parking lot. We had a huge response from the community even though temperatures were down around 30 degrees. I think everyone was tired of being inside and jumped at a chance to get out and actually do something. We also used the time to collect clothes for a local Christian ministry to people suffering from homelessness. All in all it was a great time to serve the community and let our neighbors get to know us a bit more.

As I reflect on these events I see God working, helping us not simply maintain but grow. I am so thankful first and foremost to our God for his grace and power to persevere through this time. I am also thankful for you, Living Hope Church collectively as a faith family and also as individuals who have impact my life. You have encouraged me, challenged me and pushed me to grow as we walk this road together.

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  — Philippians 1:3-6 (CSB)

With joy,