Pause with Pastor Joel – January 23, 2023

Each year in January I work with the Worship Design Team to plan our worship focus and preaching for the coming year. We plan this from July 1 to June 30 each year. This is so that I am planning a year of preaching for which I will be preaching. Usually by January a pastor knows if they’ll be remaining in their current appointment and so it makes sense to plan my next year of preaching.
This past weekend was the time when we did our planning for the coming year. We have been preaching through our Vision Statement: Joyfully reaching out to share God’s love and faith in Jesus with everyone. We are focusing this coming year on the final part – “with everyone.”
This will be a year of invitation, of challenging assumptions, of inviting God to grow our love beyond where it normally tends to have its boundaries. We will be asking ourselves, “Who would God have me love that I’m not loving yet?”
When the team comes together, we start with a little worship and then we brainstorm and come up with ideas. Then we get down to actually creating our worship series for the coming year. It is a process that takes us about four hours.
The amazing thing is that we always start with a blank sheet and just an overall theme. A single idea. And from there we are able to develop 52 sermons. The other day, when we had finished, the team was talking about how miraculous this feels at times. We’ve been planning worship together now for six years. They commented that they figured they would run out of ideas. Yet each year we come up with 52 new sermons. Certainly there are themes that repeat, but the Holy Spirit is also always there providing new inspiration.
This is often how I feel getting up in the pulpit each Sunday – How on earth could I bring a fresh message today? The answer, of course, is that I couldn’t, but the Holy Spirit does. So, each week is something new, different and unique that can speak to our spirits and inspire us to love God more and follow Jesus more closely.
It truly is miraculous. It’s only possible because of the Holy Spirit given to followers of Jesus. Still, even knowing these things, I’m no less amazed at how it happens, how it works, how consistent the Holy Spirit is to show up again and again.
Praise be to God! Where have you seen the Holy Spirit at work lately?

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