Pastors Page by Rev. Matt Stengel

For surely I know the plans I have for you,
says the LORD,
plans for your welfare and not for harm,
to give you a future with hope. ( Jeremiah 29:11)


The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
gang aft agley,
an' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
for promis'd joy!
(poet Robert Burns)

Dear Friends;

As we come to the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, we make plans. Some of them are fairly definite plans, like the church budget, or our vacation schedule. Others are a little more open-ended, like our New Year's Resolutions. However, no matter how we go about making our plans, the words of the eighteenth-century Scottish poet Robert Burns ring true - “The best-laid schemes of mice and men [often go astray]” - no matter how carefully we plan, the plans seem to change or fall through. So it is always a good idea to try and be resilient, to try to be ready to change our plans if necessary.

On the other hand, perhaps it is wise not to trust entirely in our own skill in making our plans. The prophet Jeremiah speaks God's word to his people: "I know the plans I have for you…". These were not intended to be words of warning, or words that would disrupt people's lives. They were intended to be words of hope to a people in despair. In our world it is easy to identify with those people. Many of the "prophets" of our time are speaking scary words. In the nearly 2 years since Covid-19 was identified, there has been fear, and confusion, and discord, and many plans have had to change.

Yet the words God spoke through Jeremiah are also spoken to us and our time. Jesus confirmed those words of hope in the midst of trouble as he spoke to his Disciples at their Last Supper together (see John chapters 14-16). Most important of all the assurances of that night was that God would always be with them through the Holy Spirit, and would continue to help them remember Jesus’ teachings, and know the plans that God has for them (John 14:26).

Since God has plans for us, it is probably a good idea to do all that we can to be in touch with those plans. We do that in prayer, by asking God for guidance and listening for an answer. We do that in study, by looking at how God's people have experienced God at work in their lives in the Bible and throughout Church history. We do that in fellowship, and worship, and sharing, by telling our experience of God and listening to the stories of others on the journey of life and faith with us. We do that in thinking and meditation, by engaging our minds and hearts to put all these together.

As we look forward to a new year, …as we make resolutions expressing our hopes for ourselves and those that we love… as we schedule, and budget, and lay out, and agendize our lives and our business… as we plan on the "macro" and the "micro" level… let's take time to listen…to how God plans to "give us a future with hope."

May God bless your New Year!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Matt Stengel