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Gathering Together

I think many of us are still processing the new reality that our church is in a time of change. The announcement that pastors Mark and Toby will be leaving our congregation is a time for looking back at what has been accomplished in the nearly three years that they have been with us; and also looking forward to how we are to be faithful to God's call in the future. What are the constants in our life together as First Presbyterian Church Valpo?

One key thing that binds us together as a people-called-by-God is our experience of weekly worship. Every Sunday we come to worship because God calls us here and meets us here. We gather to worship the Lord who has lifted heavy burdens, who has walked with us through dark valleys, who has brought us peace and hope, and who continues to bring us life.

Worship is the offering of ourselves to be renewed by the grace of God. How we worship creates within us a certain kind of character. The attitudes and habits of being that are created by worship services affect how we think, speak, and act in our lives.

In times of change, we need reminders that worshiping together binds us together as a congregation. We are part of the whole, worldwide Christian body as we turn our thoughts and our hearts to God. We open ourselves to God's Holy Spirit so that we may be renewed. We are reminded that we are God's people, and that we are a part of a larger future which is God's plan for the whole world and also of his plan for us as individuals - - as his beloved children. We can bring all of our anxieties and fears into God's healing presence as we remember his care for us in the past and God's promise of empowering us to be his servants in the future.

Our monthly gathering at the table of communion is one of the most powerful of all the symbolic demonstrations of God's love. Jesus chose to use earthly physical objects and actions to reveal himself to us. John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian form of worship, once said, "God never forgets that we are creatures and so uses creaturely things through which to love us."

The bread and the wine of the communion service nourish and warm our bodies as the loving presence of our Lord Jesus Christ nourishes and warms our spirits. On communion Sunday, we partake of the bread and the cup as a family gathered around the table. The table is also a foreshadowing of the table of the Great Heavenly Banquet where, in the fullness of time, all will gather in the full presence of Christ. We enact our hope in that time when all that divides us as God's children - - race and language, politics and culture, fear and despair, suspicion and anxiety - - all these things will be washed away in the overwhelming grace of God, joining us into one earthly choir, singing our praise and thanksgiving to God in love and joy.

Forgive me if I am being overly "teachie," but our worship life together has been much on my heart recently.

So let us all commit to gathering together each Sunday as we wait and watch for God to reveal and lead us into the next chapter in the life of the great congregation of First Pres Valpo.

Pastor Nancy Becker

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