A Busy Nov. Dec. Jan.

A Busy Nov. Dec. Jan.

I have realized for the past few weeks that it was time to get another blog entry up here but the problem was one of where to begin. The last post came at the end of October, which looking back now seems to have been the time when we dropped into another gear and really took off. It has been a busy few months here at GNLC and I thought it might be good to reflect on all that has been going on. Because from my point of view there has been a lot happening.

It is fitting that the last post came on Oct. 29th, because I think that is the day we started really getting busy. If you have a chance look at the pictures from our Trunk or Treat which was that Friday night at Geeseytown. We had over 70 people come out for the event and the great thing was that after the ‘trunk-or-treating’ was done people stayed for dinner, games and fellowship. I thought it was a great night of people getting together and sharing with family. I think this will be an event that we will continue.

But that very weekend was our Reformation Sunday, followed by All Saints Sunday, and before we new it our Thanksgiving Eve Service (held this year at Newry). What has been really encouraging for me as we think about our time together is that we are seeing growth in our attendance both at our ‘regular’ Sunday services but also at our special services. Thanksgiving Eve had about 75+ people come out, which I think is always good the night before a holiday. But it wasn’t just family there were our neighbors from the community as well. What is important is that I think we all are starting to share the message of what God is doing in our little churches. We are growing and people are coming. I think the special services are places that we can see that.

I was also told that I gave several of you an unexpected surprise at the Thanksgiving Service. Some of you had heard that my High School Football coach and his family were attending the Thanksgiving Service (their son is a student at Penn State). Several of you commented how interesting it was for you to hear my southern accent come out when I started talking to them. I admit that does happen. I get a lot more y’all in my sentences - so I was glad some of you got to experience that.

I also want to highlight the work the churches did supporting Project SOS (Support our Soldiers) where we gathered Items to be sent to our Altoona National Guard Units who were serving in Bilad, Iraq over Christmas. We also had supported the Domestic Abuse Shelter this Christmas. Additionally we did our yearly collection of quilts and school kits for Lutheran World Relief. It was a busy end of the year in supporting these various ministries.

We finally got to Advent and things didn’t slow down. This year we added Advent Midweek Services. Except for the first Wednesday we had pretty bad weather, we had a good turnout for these services. We will of course have our Lenten Midweek Services which both churches have done as long as memory can recall. But I think it is especially important to do these during Advent because in these special seasons of the church year it is good and right for us to take more time to remember what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. It is another opportunity to turn to God, worship God, and in worshipping we are thanking God for the gifts which he has given, is giving, and will continue to bless us with.

By the time we got to Christmas it seemed like there was something going just about every day of the week in the parish. Our Christmas Eve Services were well attended, and again we saw many members of the community join us for both our 7 and 9pm services. I thank all of you for the hospitality you showed to our visitors. As you know that is always important. We understand that some of those people we may only ever see again on Christmas – maybe they’ll come in on Easter. But it is our job to welcome them and be glad that they are with us to celebrate and worship with us. My prayer is that if I never see them again that the experience of worshipping with us will plant a seed in their heart. That they will listen to the Holy Spirit that is leading and is guiding and is calling them, and I hope that if it isn’t with us that they will get to church somewhere. That is my prayer. But our job again is to welcome and to invite and to be hospitable and in all that we do try and point to the love of Jesus.

That got us to January and I will share with you that last year once we turned into 2010 things seemed to quiet down or at least the pace relaxed a bit with the arrival of January. But this year it doesn’t seem to be the case. That is a good thing. We have stuff going on. We hosted the conference celebration of the Epiphany at Newry on January 6th and welcomed pastors from churches around Blair County who participated in worship with us. Pr. Tim Knauss from the synod office preached and did a wonderful job. Then we were blessed by the ladies of the church who put together our Ice Cream Sundae social after the service. January kept moving as we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord, and The Conversion of St. Paul this month.

And in spite of the winter weather our year long New Testament Bible Study is continuing on. I would like to thank those who are participating in the Thursday night sessions – I know it is a lot of work and a lot of reading. But I also thank those of you who are reading along with us, even if you can’t make the Bible Study. I also thank all of you who are praying for the Bible Study. The thing is when we engage in the word of scripture it changes us. God plants seeds in us and waters them with his word and Christ gives growth. If any of us (even just one of us) is engaged regularly in the Word of God that is good for the entire parish. If two are doing that all the better, if three… well you get my point. Reading the Bible is good for us because it helps the entire church. So I am thanking you for your support and also asking you to join us, in reading reflecting and praying that the Word of God does it’s work in this parish and works on us.

That is a lot of stuff going on here at Geeseytown and Newry. Upcoming we have Kids Club events, we have a Souper Supper in February, we have the Super Bowl Challenge with Atonement Lutheran in Green Bay, though it is really late this year Ash Wednesday is around the corner, and that will set us into a new cycle of prayer, midweek services and all of that heading toward the big week of Holy Week and the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter. Come Lord Jesus, and give us the strength to do your work here until you do.

It is good to be the church. There is a lot to do.
May God Bless you and Keep You
Pr. Mike

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