New Years Letter

New Years Letter

January 4, 2024

Dear Church,

I hope all of your Christmas and New Year celebrations were great and that you’re finding excitement, or at least some contented resolve, at the prospect of returning to the routine of our Chicago winter.

We’ll observe Epiphany this Sunday, which we do every year on the Sunday closest to Epiphany (which is January 6). Epiphany is when the church remembers and celebrates that when Jesus came, as the Apostle John so simply put it, he manifested his glory (John 2.11). We’ll spend the next six weeks looking at passages from the gospels which the church has, for centuries, associated with the glory of Jesus being made known. I’m looking forward to it.

On behalf of the staff, I want to thank you for your generous contributions to the staff gift this year. We’re grateful, and we’re honored to serve you.

I always like to write at this time of year because this is usually the time that folks are thinking about resolutions or changes they’d like to make in their lives in the new year. So let me make a suggestion about taking on two of the Christian disciplines, or deepening your practice of them: giving and Scripture reading. In practicing these things, we participate in some of the most fundamental ways God meets us with his grace.

So, first, if you’re not yet in the habit of giving, please consider starting. Or, if you’re not yet giving in a regular, disciplined way, the beginning of a new year is a great time to make plans for that. Giving is an important habit to nurture in the Christian life because giving of what we have for the good of others is at the very heart of the gospel. That’s what Jesus did for us! We try to model that as a church by generously giving money and resources away, and I’m inviting you to enter into that – some of you maybe for the first time, and for others of you, perhaps more deeply than you have before. In the Covenant Life Class, we spend some time talking about what Scripture says about how we’re supposed to use what we’ve been given. If it’s been a while for you or you’d like a refresher, you can read it here. You can see some ways to give to Covenant here.

Second, I encourage you to take some time each day to read Scripture and pray. These two means of grace have proven themselves again and again to be incredibly beneficial for believers and for the shared life of the church. When we read Scripture and pray, we meet with God and hear from him. He comforts us, instructs us and gives us wisdom and encouragement and a tangible sense of his presence and love for us. It would be impossible to overstate how important these disciplines are for us.

There are lots of reading plans available online, and the Read Scripture app is pretty great. We’ll also have printed copies of reading plans available on the Welcome Table for a few weeks. If following a plan doesn’t suit your style, or if it seems intimidating, you could just start reading – a chapter or even a paragraph a day. Start with one of the gospels. If you’d like some help getting started on reading and praying through Scripture, take a look at this simple guide.

I look forward to the coming year of worship, growing and learning, and serving together with all of you.

With love,