The Weekly Epistle 7/5/23

Hi Church Family,
Where did those 8 years go? For some, it may seem like a lot longer than that.  It is hard to believe that back on July 1, 2015, Donna, Nicole, and I began a new chapter in our lives.  There was no doubt in my mind that I was to move on from the church where I was serving in NY to begin a new ministry here in Laconia. That is no less certain in my mind today that this is where I am to be, pastoring this church family.  
As I reflect on these past 8 years, what have I learned?  Here is just a sample.
  I learned not to schedule a ministry leaders’ meeting and a church picnic when the Patriots were playing (and that is coming from a Pats fan).

  I learned that sarcasm is a prominent love language here (which I know nothing about).
  I learned that people really play hard in the Lakes Region.
  I learned that you can’t judge attendance at an event or study by the sign up.
  I learned that if you provide pie, people will come.
  I learned that there is an appreciation for God’s Word being preached.
  I learned that this is a congregation that shows up on Sundays and shows up to sing.
  I learned that this is a church family that has stuck together even in hard times.
I have seen this church’s generosity to give where there is a need, support the leadership even if they may not fully agree, and know how to have fun and laugh.  You have awakened my heart to grace and shown me the beauty that exists when brothers and sisters live in unity.  
Living Hope, we have a good thing happening here, and my prayer is that we don’t get too comfortable and coast.  We must continue to protect the unity.  Our love for each other must increase.  And continued diligence is needed in all matters of our faith so that we are always moving forward as a church.  
Paul, in his letter to the church of the Thessalonians, commends them for their work produced by faith, their labor prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope (see 1 Thessalonians 1:3).  The church’s vital signs were strong.  As an aside, we will be working through 1 Thessalonians in the fall.  But even in this church that was fairly healthy, Paul reminds them, ‘So then, let us not be like the others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).  
Stay awake, Living Hope!  Our God is growing this church.  It is exciting to see more people step up to serve.  My heart is blessed by the continued faithfulness of so many who have given themselves to this ministry for years and years.  Praise God for the faithful leaders in Momentum ministry who are seeing growth and the many volunteers of Living Hope Kids ministry.  
A shout out to all those who served, set up, showed up, fed, housed, nursed, contributed, and coordinated meals and housing, to make on-goal run so smoothly this past year.  A big thanks to Melissa Nutter and her team.  Watching on-goal happen each of these 8 years has been amazing!  I have learned there are times it is just fine being a spectator!  
So, church, may we bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.  We will look at that this Sunday.  Huh!  
This week’s passage in John 15 is the same passage I preached when I first arrived 8 years ago.  I didn’t see that one coming.  Another thing I continue to learn.  See God’s hand in it!
So blessed, Pastor Brian