God has seen fit to give us another year to serve out his ministry. We are a people of his grace, and his gifts, and we are still here seeking where and to what God is leading us. Every year is a gift.

Like the people of the desert journey as Moses led the Israelites, we are discovering what God has in store for us. In the midst of a changing social landscape, the busyness that life now demands, and the shifting role of the church, it can seem like the people of the church have found themselves in a sort of wilderness. Like the Israelites, our ancestors of the faith, we wander and get to wonder what God has in store for us. What does God have in store for his people in this place? Are there mountains in front of us, or valleys? What will each day of this new year bring?

Amidst this wilderness and wonderment, there are parts of the greater church who are crying out, “Were there not enough graves in Egypt?” or in modern lingo, “Why has the church been brought out into this place to die?” They are those that see that the church is dying. I see the church as finding itself again. This is our time to seek the Spirit.

Our God has always been faithful to his people and God is still faithful today. The calling of God’s people who take on his name as Christ-ians is just as valid today as yesterday. We are the ones who have been given this task to see what God is doing with us in this day and this age. We get to pray that God continues to use us to share his love and mercy that we have known in Jesus Christ for years and years to come. I believe that this is our mission on this hill: to reflect the light and love of God that he has shown us from day one. We get to be a people of his light!

When I was called to serve as pastor here a little less than half a year ago, I was asked by our Call Committee what excited me about being a pastor at First Lutheran, Avoca. What excited me then still does now: that we are a people who are “Growing in Faith and Reaching out in Love.” Our faith is something in which we are always growing. We listen to God’s stories being read in worship and we look for God’s story in our lives. We feel what God is saying to us and seek ways to live it out. We are a people who are growing in faith and reaching out in God’s love.

Just like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we too have a great and rich history of being a church. Pastors and congregation members alike have served in this place and on this land caring for it and for their neighbors for generation after generation. Our cemetery is a testament to all the saints in Christ who have lived and died in his name. By the calling of God this church was planted here and by God’s grace we have another year to live out that calling.

So this year, as we continue to be the church of God, it is a gift. Every step we take is a step of faith. Every time we listen to God, it is a moment of trust. Every vision we have for who we can be as God’s people is a risk. Like the Israelites, times can seem hard, as indeed some of the road behind has been. It is also the road that led us here, and the road upon which God continues to lead us. We trust in God to be our guide. The Holy Spirit is like the cloud leading us by day and the pillar of fire providing our rear guard by night; and we are the people of the journey in him another year. Let us together see what promises of God awaits us.

Yours in Christ, Pastor David Buco