Here we are – already a month into 2023. It is difficult to know where those first weeks have gone, since the whirlwind has moved so quickly. 

Nevertheless, as we approach this next month filled with hearts and also the beginning of that season when we will explore the remarkable depth of God’s love for us, I find myself reflecting more than normal upon what it means to truly be God’s family here on earth.

This past Sunday, I reflected during Joys & Concerns that there are many things weighing heavily upon the hearts and minds of our neighbors within our Hollidaysburg community and our broader national community right now. Difficult things. Battles rage – none of which are new, yet they are painful and can devastate so many. We cannot truly know what our siblings may be going through, which means it is so incredibly important to be as kind and as gracious as we can possibly be.

Many people just need a safe place to decompress. To think. To breathe. To be themselves. 

We are so very blessed that our church family at FPCH has created an environment where that is the case. Our members and friends, young and old alike, are safe to ask any question or to wrestle with the challenges of life among a loving family who will walk with them through whatever is coming. Love grows here. And ALL are truly welcome to see how God is working in our midst.

Having lived through many battles, both within the church and within the world, I personally know that is not always the case. I have seen the hurt and the harm that can be done when we forget that Christ told us the only way people will know we follow him is by the way we love.

This is not the romantic love of cupids, nor even the brotherly love of that team that will be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks. No, this is God’s love. Agape love. It is unconditional. Extravagant. Merciful. Yet seeking equity for those it loves. Willing to give of itself to the utmost so that another can find flourishing in this life. 

That is the love that has been and continues to grow in our midst. 

It is ours to join in the fervent work that God is already stirring up.

Blessings,   Pastor Janie

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