“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
God is indeed faithful. This means that he is trustworthy and we can completely rely on his promises. Every time we look back on the year gone by we can see God has provided for our needs, answered our prayers, strengthened us for his service and changed us a bit more into the likeness of Jesus.
According to the above verse, God has ‘called us into the fellowship of his Son’. This means that we are a community gathered around the person of Jesus. ‘Fellowship’ implies friendship, camaraderie, caring and common purpose. Each of our 3 churches is an expression of this fellowship. What a joy it is to observe this fellowshipping in action! You are constantly helping, encouraging, serving and supporting each other. Notably, this fellowship is about real physical gatherings, which are much different from ‘virtual’ gatherings, although these have their purpose. God’s way is the way of ‘incarnation’ (in the flesh) and therefore the TV and the computer can never replace the local church. People may get some benefit from a sermon posted online, but as many have said, “It’s not the same.”
The question of how to draw others into this fellowship has been and will continue to be a challenge in the 21st century. We need to prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and remain faithful ourselves to the way of Christ by loving God and neighbour. One initiative we got involved with in 2016 was a multi-church sponsored Alpha at the Pinestone. There was a decent turnout of about 25 people – churched and non-churched – over 10 weeks, and we plan a repeat for 2017.
You were wonderfully supportive of my time on sabbatical in 2016 and for this I am most grateful. It was a time for relaxing, re-thinking and re-energizing (along with many other ‘re’s). I think for me the highlight was a weeklong course on Henri Nouwen, a Dutch priest to whom God gave much insight regarding the Christian inner life.
More details of the past year in the life of our pastoral charge follow. Thank you to all who wrote reports as well as to all who have attended, donated, prayed and served in countless ways in the ministries of the churches in Lochlin, Ingoldsby and Haliburton. Also a big thank you to Lynne B. for her patient service on our behalf. May the grace of Jesus, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit continue to be with us all in 2017!
In Christ’s love,
This letter appeared on the front page of the Haliburton Pastoral Charge Annual Report 2016.