COMMAnts from the Conference Minister
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. —Jeremiah 29:11
A blessed Christmastide to you, Minnesota Conference UCC community!
This week we travel with the magi toward the brilliance of Epiphany’s star. It prompts us to wonder how God might be newly revealed among us, what new journeys of possibility God might invite us to take.
Some of us might be focused on the New Year resolutions we’ve just been inspired to make. Others are busy making predictions about what 2023 might hold in store for us.
The question I’ve been pondering is this: What hopes do we as Church bring as this new year unfolds?
I’m not asking what we’re wishing for in some sentimental, saccharine sense. I’m not even asking what we might resolve to do in the year ahead. My question is more about the hopes we carry that are deeply rooted in faith. A hope that is grounded in faith is different from some shallow kind of optimism or simple wish. It is a future we imagine based on our trust that nothing is impossible with God. It is a profound longing to more authentically step into the vision God holds for us and our world. It is our embrace of Jeremiah’s reminder that God desires to grant us a “future with hope.”
What hope do you bring into 2023, for your church, your ministry, our ministry together in the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ?
I’ll share just two hopes that I’m holding for our life together in the Minnesota Conference.
- I hope our Conference community will be a strongly woven tapestry of mutual support and concrete love. I long for us to know one another, to love one another, to support and uphold one another. I want us to be the Body of Christ in the fullest sense of that image, to realize that all our parts are essential, and that we are less than we could be if any part of the Body is lost or harmed or disengaged. I imagine a future where we rejoice in being together and seek every opportunity to gather, where we show up for each other in prayer and in presence, where we celebrate and respect each member of this Body we call the Minnesota Conference UCC.
- I hope we are people of courage and imagination. I want us to encounter difficult questions about our futures and our world with a faith that knows God will not abandon us, no matter how challenging the journey. I encourage us to be people of experimentation, ready to try a new thing even if we might occasionally stumble and fall. I imagine a Church where we stand ready to be bold for the sake of justice, faithful in the face of uncertainty, open to new ways of being communities of faith in a rapidly changing world.
In all of this, I pray for you, my siblings in Christ. I pray for our congregations, for our ministers, for all the ways and places in which we do ministry, and for all of you who are members and lay leaders. May we walk together in this new year filled with a powerful hope that is rooted and guided by the faith we share.
With you on the journey,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister