Today we attend our final church service of the year. With it falling between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I expect a light turnout. We are greeted by friendly faces and hearty handshakes. The sanctuary seats about 90, plus a balcony. I count 55 present, but with a few late arrivals, our number eventually surpasses 60.
Though an organ is present, we only use the piano, singing numbers from the hymnal. After the first song, the minister gives an opening prayer, reads Mark 12:28-34, and makes many announcements. Several members are absent due to illness; a few, in the hospital; and two families, traveling.
In a first for us, the congregation recites their memory verse for December in unison, Romans 5:8 as rendered in the King James Version of the Bible. The pastor challenges them to recall their November memory verse, which he then leads them in saying.
We launch into another song and after two verses, pause to greet one another. During this extended time, we surely meet most of the adults present. We return to our seats and sing the remaining two verses. Next is the prayer and offering, followed by another song; the children are excused for junior church.
Teaching from Matthew 9:14-17, the minister draws out a series of lessons from the text’s four verses, frequently returning to his theme of loving God more next year than ever before. Presented with simple clarity, the profound meaning strikes me. Being intent on loving God more in the coming year surpasses any New Year’s resolution and trumps all annual goals. I appreciate his future-focus and in keeping God pre-eminent.
He concludes by challenging us to make a pledge: “God, I will love you more in the new year.” What a fitting way to transition into a new year.