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Pastor Cheryl Matthews Report

Dear Friends in Christ:

I have long had the practice of thinking about and expressing gratitude for what has brought goodness and meaning to my life as one year comes to a close and a New Year dawns. I appreciate the perspective of Melodie Beattie who wrote of gratitude: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

There is much I am grateful for as I serve in your midst as pastor at Christ Lutheran. My life is rich and full. I am deeply grateful for the relationships that have been cultivated, especially with those who are homebound with whom I share Holy Communion once a month. I give thanks for the holy times of sharing together the milestones of life – birth and death, hopes and dreams, illness and recovery, friendship and love. I am grateful for the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we worship together, pray together, and join weekly in the meal of grace as we gather around the altar, sharing in the bread and wine.

The joy of being close to my eldest daughter and grandchildren can’t be put into words. I am so grateful to have received a call to serve where the commute to visit their family is closer than I ever imagined it to be. I am so grateful for the times we have shared together since my move to Wisconsin. Being a Grandma brings rich blessings and treasured memories to my life.

As I take a moment to reflect on the conversations shared in December’s Advent Care and Circles at the parsonage, I think of another quote from Melody Beattie: “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” In our conversation circles, we discussed some of joys as well as the challenges that Christ Lutheran faced in its history. We also reflected on some of current strengths. I sensed those present feel a deep sense of gratitude for this church and its mission and ministry. Yes, there are challenges before us. But we are a community with many gifts and we can embrace a future of hope and promise. God is ever-faithful and God will guide us as we seek to be faithful to Christ Jesus in our strategic planning, considering well what Jesus is calling us to do and to be for each other, for our extended community of Arcadia, and beyond. May we be a purpose-drive church that makes a difference for good in God’s world.

Albert Schweitzer said of gratitude: At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” There are times when your own dimming light has been and will be rekindled by the spark of another person’s hope, acceptance, forgiveness, and love. We can all give thanks for those who have lit the flame within us, giving gratitude to God those who have blessed us with the warmth of their inner light.

God’s blessing and peace for a grace-filled New Year.

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