Merry Christmas! I pray that this newsletter finds you well and hearing echoes of a joyous Christmas season. Through much careful planning (and in spite of the Julian and Gregorian calendars), the new calendar year begins right around the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the “return” of daylight to this part of the world. So, as the echoes of an old year still surround us, I wish you the best of the new.

As this new year begins in our world and our church, we have the chance to spend some time reflecting on where we have been and what lies in store for us. You are all invited to join us on Saturday, January 17 for a “planning and dreaming retreat.” We’ll meet here at the church from 9:00 to noon, followed by a light lunch. After lunch, the elders on session will receive training on some of the specific duties of that office.

This planning and dreaming retreat is based on the retreat that I experienced with our session members last January. Now, all of Hope’s members have the chance to share in the brainstorming. The retreat is a chance for us to get out of the regular routine of planning and participating in activities long enough to broaden our focus and imagine what we’re being called to become.

We’ll intentionally avoid thinking realistically or making concrete decisions in light of the resources we have at hand. Reality and careful stewardship have their place, of course, but their power and energy most often come from some wildly irresponsible dreaming. What’s the most amazing thing you could imagine for our church to do? What’s the best thing we’ve done in the past few years? Most importantly, what does the church do in your life? Why are you part of this family?

Once we’ve imagined something new, we’ll have plenty of time to work on the details of helping it come about. That process could involve committees, individuals, or teams assigned to do the work. The session would oversee and help coordinate the work we do, just as always. The dreams we dream and the practicalities of life will come together to show us the next steps.

So bring your imagination to church on Saturday, January 17. Muffins and coffee will start at 8:30, and the retreat time will begin at 9:00. I hope to see you there!

Unrelated: Thanks to all of you for your supportive comments after Leanne and I announced in church that we’ve begun the process of adopting a child. As a surprising number of you know firsthand, this will be an extremely long and unpredictable process, and we’re happy to know that we can share it with you. You can follow our progress at – or if you’re not web-savvy, you can always ask!