A Fresh Start!

Dear Friends,

Recently, while driving, I saw a billboard advertising a new church. In big bold letters that stretched across the entire billboard it read, “A Great Church for a Fresh Start!”  

In light of 2019 and a decade coming to an end, I’ve been thinking recently about the fresh start for all of us that has arrived as we enter a new year and a new decade. We all desire fresh starts or “do-overs” in life from time to time, don’t we?

The church promoted on this billboard understands this and seeks to attract people who have either had negative experiences in their previous churches or who perhaps are unchurched and have never had a church home. Maybe they are trying to appeal to those who feel as if their church has let them down. Or, that their church is no longer meeting their needs. They want to send the message that “if you come to our church you can start fresh”, or “this isn’t like your old church”, or “this church will give you what you’re looking for!” It’s a great marketing strategy, to tap into the hearts of those seeking renewal.

But as I began to think deeply about that slogan I realized how misleading it seems to be. Any church that faithfully and truthfully preaches and lives out the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a great church for a fresh start, is it not? Every Sunday that you sit in your pew and worship the Lord with gladness and open hearts and minds, I pray you leave that experience renewed, energized, filled, and having been given a fresh start! 

Haven’t you ever felt like if you miss church on Sunday that something is missing from your week?  Haven’t you ever felt that void that comes with missing church and the fellowship that exists in that place? Haven’t you ever looked forward to Sunday morning because you know that in that place you are going to be renewed by the Word, the music, the community, and the sacraments that surround you with warmth, love, and acceptance? We feel these things often, don’t we?

Our congregation is an exceptionally warm and friendly congregation. Some of you have shared with me how much you miss not being here on a Sunday because of what you receive here. So I would agree with the slogan, “First UMC Lindstrom…A Great Church for a Fresh Start!” I encourage you to invite others to worship or other church events so that they can see for themselves how this might be a place for them to start fresh.

But I still wonder, what church that faithfully follows Jesus Christ and His commands to love God and each other above all else is not a great church for a fresh start?! Aren’t they all? Shouldn’t they all be? The Church of Jesus Christ provides us all with the ability to live our broken lives as forgiven, loved, and blessed children of God – not to judge one another in our brokenness but to love and accept one another where they’re at and to worship and serve together as brothers and sisters in Christ in search of a fresh start. Thanks be to God for that!

2020 will soon arrive. A new decade is soon to be upon us. A fresh start is available – in Christ – day after day, week after week, year after year. So come. Come to worship the Lord on Sunday. Come to be renewed on Sunday. Come to be loved. Come to be accepted. Come to praise God. Come to celebrate our community. Come to give thanks. Come to witness the glory of the Lord. Come and receive new life. Come for a fresh start!

See you in church!

Pastor Dale