For many people, the beginning of a New Year causes the mind to ponder the future, what is to come during the next twelve months. Most of the anticipation comes from events that are planned, such as graduations, confirmations, special celebrations, the birth of a child, starting a new school or college, retirement, etc. Some anticipation involves unplanned events that usually involve concerns about health, employment, family dynamics, or unresolved personal issues.

As a congregation, Hope has many planned events that will cause anticipated excitement. Besides the some of the annual events mentioned above, the congregation will join in celebrating with Pastor Harries his retirement from fulltime ministry at the end of July. On February 11, Rev. Lee Hovel, the Circuit Visitor, will be facilitating a meeting with a group composed of called workers, congregational leaders, and lay members to gain an assessment of the current status of Hope and explore future direction. This assessment is being conducted with all congregations. Rev. Hovel’s assessment will be shared with District President Peter Lange and a congregational meeting with President Lange will then be scheduled. At the congregation meeting, President Lange will explain the transition and call processes.

There is also anticipation at the school. We will celebrate the wonderful blessing Kris Alsin has been to our school as she also retires from her teaching ministry at the end of the school year. It is amazing how many children have been taught by Kris and I have a particular sense of gratitude for any teacher that has the stamina and patience for the primary grades – they are a “creative” bunch. We will also bid God’s speed to Adam and Jena Birt as they leave for Nebraska at the conclusion of the school year. Adam has a job opportunity and it will also allow them to be closer to family. Speaking of the school, the day school and preschool will be intensifying marketing efforts and executing plans for the 2017-2018 school year.

Additional activities include expanding participation in parish education opportunities, reaching every member with God’s Word at least once per week, etc. There will also be activities surrounding the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation. There is much activity taking place – Hope is on the move.

As for unplanned events, it is very easy to slide into what I call “German fatalism,” a term that I have used when my family members cast a shroud of impending doom on events that may not even occur. It is easy to fall prey and even be consumed by this type of anticipation because it conforms nicely to our fallen nature and is ultimately the result of not trusting that we are in God’s most capable hands. Will challenges arise in our lives? The answer for the Christian is a definite yes, and the outcome is usually a closer walk with God. From a congregational perspective, I adhere to the saying “What man proposes, God disposes.” In other words, we plan and execute as best we can and let God take care of the outcome.

Anticipation, when viewed from a Christian perspective, is a good thing because we as a family in Christ look forward to God blessing our lives with “daily bread” and sustaining us through His Word and Sacraments. So go ahead and raise a glass to the New Year – we have all the confidence in the promises of God that whatever the future, He will abide in us.

See you in church!

In His Service,
Bob Hollman
Bob Hollman