Dear Church of the Shepherd Family,

When family news is good news, it always makes the day go better.  When someone in the family gets a new job, a new home, a marriage proposal, a good doctor report, a difficult situation resolved, or even loses a few pounds, everyone celebrates.  In the Spalding household, we celebrated all last week.  We got to see and hold our grandson, Oliver, for the first time.  What a special moment and a time of great joy.  I’m so proud of the job that my daughter and son-in-law are already doing as new parents.  It just makes my heart sing.

Celebrating my second daughter’s marriage was another day of great joy.  So much love filled my heart as I walked her down the aisle and then turned around and co-officiated the service with the groom’s father (also a pastor). What fun it was to see how God had brought two lives so perfectly together and the creation of a new life together.

In moments of such great joy, I think I can begin to catch a glimpse of how God feels towards each one of us as His children when He sees and hears how His family is doing.  I am certain He was laughing and smiling as we celebrated.

I believe that God and all of heaven rejoice in the same way when we share in baptism, when someone gives their life to Jesus, or when someone rededicates their life.  I believe it happens when we are a good neighbor to someone.  I think it happens again when we share the stories with each other.  I’ve been hearing stories of sharing faith with a car salesman as someone purchased a car, of planning a neighborhood block party with their HOA this summer, and of sharing a conversation with someone we served at Oasis.  All of these are stories of life change.

The COS family news update includes the good news that our Extreme Camp for children this summer is full!  Praise God!  Another update is that our High School graduates that are remaining in our community are wanting to form a college small group to continue their faith journey and connection to COS!  Yeah God!  Pastor Ashley also shared in worship last week how one of our neighbors was so grateful for the community playground that they came in and made a donation to our ministry so that we might continue what God is doing in our midst.  Hallelujah!  Finally, one of our members who has been battling cancer is preparing his testimony to share how God has been working in his life during this time.  What a great joy!  All of these are stories of life change.

Change, even when it is good news like this, is still difficult and always represents the loss of something.  With a wedding, my little girl is no longer my little girl.  With the birth of a child, there is the loss of sleep, free time, and the list could go on.  Our ability to move into these new realities is based on our ability to accept the change and celebrate the hope and promise that the change does or could bring.  When we are able to see that what lies ahead is greater or at least worth the pain of change, we can embrace it more openly and live into it more quickly.

Are their changes happening in your life right now?  How are you moving into or embracing them?  Are there changes on the horizon?  How are you preparing or preventing yourself from moving into them?  Most important, can you see God at work or sense God’s presence with you as you move into them?

This weekend we will wrap up the change that God is asking us to live into as we become better neighbors.  We will be looking at the neighborhood God plans for us to live into as we look at it through the eyes of John and the book of Revelation.  We have some great fun planned as well as we worship – can anyone remember Mr. Rogers?  That’s the only clue you get – until this weekend.  I look forward to worshipping with each one of you.

Pastor Jon