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The Rebirth of Emmanuel

The Rebirth of Emmanuel

Anyone who has watched a childbirth knows there’s no easy way to be born. There’s also no easy way to be reborn, especially for churches. As odd as it sounds, religious institutions seem to be inherently resistant to change and transformation. About five years ago, Emmanuel initiated a strategic, long range planning process and, simultaneously, a search for a Senior Minister who could lead in carrying out the vision. I have just completed four years at Emmanuel. Not everything has gone as smoothly or quickly as we all would have hoped for but there are a number of important things which have happened which I’m very happy about:

– The Chapel and the Peace Lounge: Our beautiful small chapel was restored and has become a beachhead for prayer and meditation. The Peace Lounge, beautifully refurbished 20 years ago by Frank Cocheo, was in need of a facelift. With the help of artist Connie Buckler Gill, the Peace Lounge has become a truly peaceful and joyful place, a central gathering place for fellowship and church and community events.

– The building of a wonderful staff: Jo Marie, John Giresi and the Rev. Arturo Lewis have joined our ministry team along with Pastor Judy Wheeler. They are all outstanding. It’s been a joy to serve with Marek Jura as well. In addition, our regularly scheduled musicians have become a part of our worship team and church family.

– A welcoming congregation: Several years ago the church went public with its “open and affirming” position. We welcome not only persons of the LGBTQ community but an increasingly diverse group of friends and visitors. Our hospitality to all shines!

– Getting the church into the “world” and the “world” into the church. Emmanuel is becoming known as a vital part of the peace and justice community in Bergen County. As well, our outreach programs like “Uncoupling” and our many long standing mission and outreach programs reflect our growing strength as more than just a Sunday morning congregation.

– A 21st century congregation: We now have a high quality audio/video system, an appealing contemporary website and have rebranded our community church as simply “Emmanuel.” We are no longer the best kept secret in Ridgewood.

– A healthier church body: The Apostle Paul talked about “the spirit of unity in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3) We are now a more unified, and peaceful congregation. We are more patient with each other and our communication skills have improved. Our trust has grown and our leadership has evolved. As your pastor I have felt growing trust and support in my leadership.

In many ways, our church is very lucky and very blessed. If anything good has happened in the last four years, it has been God’s gracious gift. I still want to see many more people find Emmanuel and for our outreach to continue to grow. The world needs Emmanuel!

“That Your Joy May Be Full” – The Gospel of John, Chapters 14-17

“That Your Joy May Be Full” – The Gospel of John, Chapters 14-17

Chapters 14-17 of John’s gospel are some of the most important in the New Testament. These are the last teachings and instructions of Jesus to his disciples before his death. The Gospel of John is unique. It shares little in common in terms of structure and content compared to the other three “Synoptic” gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John’s gospel Jesus is the “logos”, the eternal Word springing forth from the very life of God before time began, arching into the created world and into the arena of time and space; “the word became flesh.” The final chapters also expand on and elaborate the events of the “passion” (Jesus suffering and death) in a way that the three other gospels don’t. They contain the beautiful imagery of the vine and the branches and Jesus call for unity and oneness, not only between him and the disciples but among the disciples themselves so that the world would be convinced of his claims.(17:20-21)

It is the relationship of the disciples and relationships in general, that are the focus of the gospel story. Before there was a Christian Bible, i.e., the New Testament, there was a church. Before there was a book, there was a community, a set of relationships. Jesus prayed for the unity and “oneness” of all people. Great religious traditions (and physics/metaphysics) teach us that separateness is an illusion. We are all connected to a greater reality and connected to each other. This is why Jesus said things like, “As much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.” We could just as certainly say that as much as we’ve done it to the least of these, we have done it to ourselves! We are all inherently connected and so the quality of our relationships is vital to our flourishing not only as a Christian community but as a human community.

Connection and relationships are part of the tapestry of being itself. Martin Buber, the Jewish Philosopher wrote about this beautifully in his classic book “I and Thou.” Human beings cannot be happy and healthy outside of healthy relationships. Our relationships serve as a mirror through which we can see ourselves for who we really are. It’s also true that we not only come to know ourselves but to know God better through authentic, honest and caring relationships. This is the whole point of a Christian community. It’s not that the relationships in a spiritual community are conflict free and void of all the normal, human, ego driven dysfunction that is part and parcel of being a human being, but the goal should always be for the oneness in Christ which more and more bonds our spirits together and makes us one with each other. This must have been important for Jesus to have saved this teaching for the very end of his earthly life. When we read it now, it almost seems like such an ephemeral and out of reach goal for mere mortals to achieve. It is only through the power and presence of the spirit that anything approaching this ideal is achievable. It is only because we have each been made in “the image of God” and share in the very nature of God that it is possible. During our Lenten journey we go deeper, dig deeper and find ways to be more connected with the spirit, with God, with reality and with each other, not just as some narcissistic, spiritualized goal but that “the world” might see the beauty of the unity and be inspired and find hope. Take time in the next few weeks to read John Chapters 14-17. You will be inspired too.

Lent: The Season of Renewal

Lent: The Season of Renewal

Any authentic religion always issues in personal transformation. This is exactly the message of the Easter season, the transformation from “death” into new life, from despair, hopelessness, egocentricity and hatred into joy, abundance and self-giving love. March 6 is Ash Wednesday. Thus begins the start of a season of reflection and introspection leading to Easter day. Sometimes it helps clear our minds if our stomachs are not always full and our physical indulgences not always satisfied and so some people fast. The real point of the Lenten season, however, is not what we give up but what we take on, especially taking on the responsibility of being honest with God and honest with ourselves. Lent is the season when we can look at ourselves with radical honesty and with the radical love and acceptance God has bestowed on us. In actuality, this kind of spiritual reflection is not something for a season but for a lifetime. It is our labor of love and God’s gift to us; the ability to be continually transformed and to use every experience and season of life as a means of receiving God’s grace.

We will have some special gatherings at Emmanuel this year to provide a space for you to make the most of Lent:

March 20 – Wednesday Soup Dinner & Devotion 6-7 pm Peace Lounge

March 27 – Wednesday Soup Dinner & Devotion 6-7 pm Peace Lounge

April 3 – Wednesday Soup Dinner & Devotion 6-7 pm Peace Lounge

April 18 – Community Maundy Thursday service at Emmanuel – – – Simple Supper at 6 pm / Service at 7 pm

Becoming New – by Rev. Arturo P. Lewis

Becoming New – by Rev. Arturo P. Lewis

Matthew 9:16, 17 NIV

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

We change into something new when we trust that Jesus is able to help us. Trust that together we can do what Jesus teaches, what he calls us to be. Jesus teaches us to put new wine into new wine skins. We are the wine skins and our acceptance of Jesus is the new wine. We can become new. A good place to start is by deepening our intimacy and our dependency on Jesus’ teachings. As our faith grows and we join this with our intellect, and activities, we will find ourselves developing a capacity and abilities to be that new wine skin, that new Christian, that new church. We can help make a wonderful difference in the lives of others. Jesus calls us to be the light in a dark world. This is part of our responsibility as Believers. It is our duty to be new wine skins. When we become new wine skins, we pour our new wine into other new wine skins. We can bring new people into our lives because now we will be able to bring them closer to the Lord. We can bring new people into our church because now that we are the new wine skins with new wine. We will be able to hold them and nurture them just as we’ve been cared for. Our faith, our stories, love and hospitality inform others that they are welcomed and needed right where we are. We can do it because Jesus helps us all to become new.

Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss 2019

Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss 2019

It is true, time seems to pass exponentially faster as we age. The weeks run into months, the months turn into years and the years blend into decades. It now takes me several months into the new year before I actually begin writing the correct date for the new year! I will have served at Emmanuel four years in April. I was called to help lead the church into a process of change and transformation and I have to say that the challenge has been even more than I expected. The Northeastern United States is known for its historically low rate of church attendance and Bergen County is no exception. The good news is that we are now beginning to see a returning group of new, diverse and energetic persons into our fellowship. We are also reaching out to the wider community in ways that aren’t directly apparent in the Sunday service. The Uncoupling Group, the Peace and Justice Forum, the Community Pasta Dinner and our mission and outreach programs continue to flourish and expand and help identify our congregation as an open, outward bound, and progressive Christian church. Our new part-time associate minister, the Rev. Arturo Lewis has completed one year of work with us and building bridges with youth and young adults and is working with me planning for 2019.

There are many new persons who need to find the compelling message and caring, inviting community that Emmanuel offers. According to a recent poll cited in the New York Times, even though interest in institutional religion has been decreasing since the 60’s, the search for “peace and well-being” has almost doubled. Yes, human beings have always had and will continue to have a longing for the “transcendent,” or as I call it a “spiritual g.p.s.” which points them to a deeper and more authentic life. I will be looking forward in the coming year to bringing a sermon series on “the spiritual journey” to meet those spiritual seekers at their point of need and interest. As well, we will be experimenting with some new and exciting forms of worship to speak to the needs of our diverse audience.

I am so thankful for my great staff at Emmanuel and for the many gifted lay leaders who do much of the heavy day to day lifting in order to keep things running smoothly. Most importantly I am ever grateful to my wife Connie who supports me and this church whole-heartedly and joyfully makes the sacrifice to be separated from me for many weeks out of the year so I can do the work I feel called to do. I hate to say it but soon I will be writing my year end column for 2019, so don’t blink or you’ll miss the new year. I hope we all can “redeem the time” so that we can make the most of the months that lie ahead. To quote the Psalmist, “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us, and establish the work of our hands, yes establish the work of our hands.”

Advent Reflections – by Pastor Judy

Advent Reflections – by Pastor Judy

The Advent Season has come again when we are invited to make our journey to Bethlehem to see the lovingkindness of the Lord revealed in the baby Jesus in the manger.

This season we rejoice, for Jesus’ coming brings us “good news of great joy.” It brings us peace and hope and light in our darkness.

We can hardly believe that God would be this humble, this self-giving, this vulnerable, in order to be Emmanuel, God-with-us! But such is the depth of God’s love for us. Seeing Jesus in the manger changes our understanding of God completely, for now we see God’s tender mercy, pure compassion, and loving presence as never before.

God has come to dwell with us and in us!

Let us respond with this prayer, in the words of Phillips Brooks who wrote the carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”:

“O holy Child of Bethlehem,descend to us, we pray;

cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!”

Thankfulness (a devotion by Pastor Arturo Lewis)

Thankfulness (a devotion by Pastor Arturo Lewis)

Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:7

The result of a “Thankful Spirit” is that it has the power to replace…

Anger with Love.

Resentment with Happiness.

Fear with Faith.

Worry with Peace.

The thought to Dominate with the Desire to play on a Team.

Self-preoccupation with Concern for the needs of others.

Guilt with an open heart to Forgive.

Jealousy with Joy for someone else’s success.

Lack of Creativity with Inspired Productivity.

Inferiority with Dignity.

Lack of Love with an Abundance of Sharing.

Don’t fall victim to spiritual amnesia

Don’t fall victim to spiritual amnesia

I’ve long been a fan of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” The program is sponsored by a bunch of fictitious sponsors, including the Duct Tape Advisory Council and Peninsula Shirts. Peninsula makes monogrammed shirts for men and women. Its radio commercial features a couple that has four children and has been married 28 years. Suddenly, the wife realizes something is terribly wrong as she says, “Honey, you never call me by name anymore. Don’t you love me anymore, or have you just forgotten my name? After some awkward moments, it becomes obvious that the husband has, in fact, forgotten his wife’s name, as well as the names of his four children. Then comes the pitch for Peninsula monogrammed shirts: “If only you’d gotten her one of our special monogrammed shirts for her birthday, you’d have that telltale signal right on her front pocket, and you’d never again forget your true love’s name.” “And,” the announcer adds, Peninsula also makes monogrammed underwear for those intimate moments when it would be very, very bad to forget your sweetheart’s name.

In his classic novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells of a village of people who are afflicted with a strange plague of forgetfulness, a kind of contagious amnesia. From the oldest inhabitants to the youngest, everyone in the village forgets the names of everything, even the most common objects. One young man, still relatively unaffected by the epidemic, seeks to minimize the damage by labeling everything in town with a sign. “This is a table, this is a window, this is a cow which has to be milked,” etc. At the entrance of the town, on the main road, he puts two large signs. One reads; “The name of our village Makondo.” The other sign reads: “God exists.”

It seems to me that a strange kind of plague has infected our society as well, a kind of spiritual sleeping sickness of the soul, a kind of “spiritual amnesia.” It is a malady that causes us to forget who God is and who we are in relationship to God. It causes us to act in ways which as if we have forgotten that God even exists. When we forget who we are and whose we are, life loses its meaning and purpose and begins to disintegrate.

A billboard recently caught my attention. It read, simply, “We need to talk. Signed, God.” Whether or not we are attentive to it, or even conscious of it, we all exist in relationship to the divine. I find it increasingly difficult to “define” God, but I am more convinced than ever that at the center of the universe stands a loving inviting, gracious presence, around which all reality finds its unity. This same gracious presence has “hard-wired” us for a relationship, which heals us and sets us free. All this stuff is easy to forget in a society which tends to validate only the material world. It’s our time to remember who we are and “whose we are’” and who God is; The one from whom we came and the one to whom we return.

America’s Original Sin(s)

America’s Original Sin(s)

It’s been said that racism is America’s original sin. Whether it be Native Americans, Africans, or the Japanese, America has a long and ugly history of singling out certain ethnic and racial groups for special attention, detention and abuse. Slavery, perhaps is the darkest chapter of that history and we are still dealing with the aftermath.

The evangelical church used to be as equally concerned with social ills as with personal salvation. Key players in the abolitionist movement were people of faith who risked their lives and fortunes eradicating what they saw as a sin against God and humanity. The Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century brought not only personal salvation but social reform. The Presbyterian Minister Jonathan Blanchard decried the evils of slavery based on his interpretation of the Bible and, in particular, what he considered the oneness of all humanity. He stated that: “I rest my opposition to slavery upon the one-bloodism of the New Testament. All men are equal, because they are of one equal blood.”

You have heard me say essentially the same things from the pulpit and that “we all stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross.” We share not only in the blood of Christ but in each other’s blood by way of our common humanity and connection to the Source. It’s shocking to me that the 80% of evangelicals, who happened to vote for our current president, have not made racial reconciliation a defining issue. Many in the church have made a Faustian bargain with the political establishment and have been willing to overlook the continuing injustices related to law enforcement, the criminal justice system and economic inequality.

There certainly needs to be room in any faith community for discussion and disagreement about the political solutions needed to address the social ills and sins which still plague us. But if there’s any evangelical blood left in my body it yearns for the great tradition of spiritual and social reform embodied in people like Blanchard, Lyman Beecher and even C.G. Finney.

If the evangelical church is to save its soul and if our great United States of America is to save its democracy it needs to get back to “basics.” A recent Atlantic magazine article nails down what this means for me: “Democracy is not merely a set of procedures. It has a moral structure. The values we celebrate or stigmatize eventually influence the character of our people and polity. Democracy does not insist on perfect virtue from its leaders. But there is a set of values that lends authority to power: empathy, honesty, integrity and self-restraint. And the legitimization of cruelty, prejudice, falsehood, and corruption is the kind of thing, one would think, that religious people were born to oppose, not bless.”

The Jewish high holy days have just been completed. A part of that great tradition is the cry of repentance and the search for atonement. In that vein I am reminded of a Hebrew Scripture popular with evangelicals: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

“Your Spiritual Autobiography: Emmanuel, the Next Chapter”  Seminal Moments in Emmanuel’s Story

“Your Spiritual Autobiography: Emmanuel, the Next Chapter” Seminal Moments in Emmanuel’s Story

Pastor Kenneth Gill, 8/12/2018, Emmanuel

“Your Spiritual Autobiography: Emmanuel, the Next Chapter”

Seminal Moments in Emmanuel’s Story:

From: “Emmanuel the Autobiography of Emmanuel Baptist Church

on its 125th Anniversary”, Written in 1991

Choir or Quartet

In 1944 a young Japanese American woman had become a part of the Emmanuel Baptist Church. She had just been released from a Japanese internment camp and was living in the home of Marilyn and John Thomas. The young woman wanted to join the choir but this was wartime and the largest contributor to the church, an internationally known businessman, predicted that Emmanuel would become known as the “Jap church” if she became a choir member. Consequently, the next choir practice consisted of four people instead of twenty and the wealthy donor threatened to withdraw his pledge and leave the membership if the woman were allowed to join. There was an extended, agonized meeting of the Board of Trustees soon thereafter to come up with a policy and decision. Opinions were divided and tempers flared but finally they voted to allow the Japanese woman to join the choir. Consequently the disgruntled wealthy member left the church and withdrew his huge pledge. Time passed and within the next two years the church budget doubled.

The Klux Klan Calls

When the new minister came to town there were large signs as one entered the village which read: “This is a Christian community.” He thought that was nice until he realized the slogan meant, “No Jews wanted.” In fact, the real estate board had a regulation that if a realtor sold property to a Jew, the penalty was twice the commission on the sale. Aware of the racist messaging, the new Emmanuel minister preached a sermon saying, “It was easy to refer to Christ or Lord, or Son of God, but there seemed to be a block against evening thinking about Jesus as a Jew.” The word spread fast and the next night Emmanuel’s minister answered the doorbell at home to be confronted by representative of the KKK, threatening him and the church if he continued to talk of equality or fellowship amongst people in that way. As it turned out, the editor of the Ridgewood paper ended up printing the whole sermon in the local paper and the police were alerted. The KKK members cowered and disappeared and the congregation would eventually would go on not only to pride itself in a free pulpit but the freedom of all people of all kinds to enter into church fellowship.

Punishment or Redemption

There was the time when Emmanuel’s beloved Senior Minister announced the end of his long term marriage and his impending divorce. (Unlike now, forty years ago divorce, especially by a clergyperson was still stigmatized and often ended a minister’s ministry.) The pastor submitted his resignation to the congregation but the church leaders refused to accept it. Instead, they offered support and compassion and shared the pain in what was for that pastor a terrible moment in his life. Likewise, when a young , female associate minister at Emmanuel became pregnant “out of wedlock” there was a heated debate about what to do. Opinions were sharply divided, some people left the church but in the end redemption was the last word. The young woman continued to serve the church and to this day continues to have a flourishing ministry in a local church. (A footnote that in its almost 150 year history the church has never booted a minister out!) The story of a person’s life, or that of a church hinges on critical moments and choices. The future is open for Emmanuel and the next chapter is yet to be written.

Following are two possible accounts or scenarios of how that next chapter might be written: Emmanuel 2030, 40 years after the last account was written in 1991.

EMMANUEL 2030, SCENARIO #1– Emmanuel officially closed its doors today on the eve of its 140th anniversary. It joins several historic Ridgewood churches which have closed in the last year, one becoming a restaurant and the other used as a site for the long debated parking garage. The dwindling congregation of about ten participating members just could not sustain the church any longer. Dwindling finances and attendance had plagued the church for years but in the end, demographic and cultural changes and the general decline in participation in mainline Protestant churches made it impossible to continue. The Holmstead School closed in 2027, which eliminated its major financial subsidy. After work with several consultants and numerous attempts at church renewal with several ministers, the congregation was unable to attract and retain new, contributing members to it’s basically traditional program and structure. Both a Unitarian and Reformed congregation approached Emmanuel leadership about consolidating congregations but the members were unwilling to make the necessary changes to accommodate a merger. A vital Korean Christian congregation offered to share expenses but, again, the church was unwilling to move its Sunday morning worship from 10:30am. to 9:30a.m. and so the negotiations stopped. It’s not that the “Emmanualites”, as they like to call themselves, were unhappy with the handful of remaining congregants. They still enjoyed listening to the organ every Sunday, they still loved their coffee hour and what remained of the annual festival but with most members approaching 90 and above, there was little energy left to keep the church running. The upside is that the substantial remaining assets, including, the building have been turned over to a foundation which will fund significant not for profit and charitable work throughout northern New Jersey. Part of the proceeds will go to the ABCNJ, which itself is in financial straits due to the shrinking and closure of many of its own member churches. Unfortunately there has been a lot of arguing and acrimony amongst some of the remaining members over how to distribute the assets and most recently denominational authorities have needed to provide a conflict mediator to help sort things out. The sales agreement calls for the sanctuary to be preserved as a kind of historical landmark and wedding venue and the educational wing will be replaced with luxury condos. The new property owners have agreed to leave a large, attractive memorial plaque on the front of the remaining structure as a tribute to the rich legacy of mission and ministry of the Emmanuel Baptist Church.

EMMANUEL 2030, SCENARIO #2– The congregation of Emmanuel Church has just celebrated its 140th anniversary. In a special ceremony, the celebratory crowd planted it’s fourth tree on Hope Street in the shade of the flourishing first tree which was planted in 2016. The congregation has undergone substantial changes over the last 10 or 12 years and is barely recognizable compared to its traditional constituency. Worshipers come from many diverse faith backgrounds and ethnic groups. In a religiously and ethnically pluralistic community, Emmanuel has adapted by embracing the rituals and wisdom of many traditions along with the Bible and other sacred texts. The church has become known not only for thoughtful, compelling preaching but for the excellence and diversity of its music. On most Sundays the sanctuary is comfortably full with an additional service offered on special religious holidays and with a live stream audience that far out numbers those physically in the sanctuary. Asked about the reason for the growth in membership, the current church moderator said it wasn’t so much a particular program but the fact that Emmanuel had truly become known as a welcoming, inclusive, caring and open community where all people were received. As well, since it adapted its sanctuary for use as a theatre space, people come from throughout the tristate area to enjoy thought provoking, high quality plays and productions, a kind of off-Broadway of Bergen County which includes a significant program for low income children.

Like all of its sister churches, Emmanuel has faced its share of financial challenges but has have been able to create a unique, multi-staff ministry with several part time bi-vocational pastors and increased lay leadership. Five years ago, the church called its first openly gay associate minister and the abandoned church “dungeon” has been given new birth as a vital center for teenagers seeking counsel , support and friendship. The church offices are home to an interfaith community outreach program which provides volunteer opportunities and sponsors a county wide program promoting peace and justice and sustainability issues (The Wheeler Center). The Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities share together in ministry to youth and young adults, in the affordable housing initiative and in the Charter for Compassion. With the sale of several church properties in Ridgewood, congregations, interact and even worship together much more frequently and share as much as possible in community outreach. Emmanuel has a long history of connecting Biblical faith and social action, but in recent years, the congregation has taken a huge leap in its outreach program. The property at 324 Ridgewood Ave is currently being used as a highly structured “halfway house” program for men recently incarcerated (The Clark Initiative) and Emmanuel just celebrated the third anniversary of the four condominiums built on church property used as affordable senior housing. Two of the units are now occupied by senior church members. Over the years Emmanuel has become known as a community center and clearinghouse related to the pressing social issues and crises that have emerged in Ridgewood and Bergen County. When a local mosque was defaced last week, over 300 gathered at the church as a show of support. Since 2020, the church has sponsored 8 refugee families (The Shaver Fund), as well as having provided sanctuary to 3 undocumented families during the massive 2019 U.S deportation program. In recent years we have lost a number of our beloved older members but their memory and legacy lives on. One longtime member left the church a considerable endowment, the proceeds of which are exclusively dedicated to outreach beyond the doors of the church. Pastor Gill retired some years ago, but the strategic planning project which began before and during his tenure continues. Some items have dropped off the list but new opportunities have emerged. Congregational members and others still regularly enter the Meditation Chapel to light candles, pray. The members of Emmanuel have come to deeply understand and appreciate that their life and work together needs to be rooted in the spiritual life, the “mind of Christ” , which has sustained their unity in the midst of many disagreements and has seen them through their many challenges over the years. At the end of a recent planning session one thoughtful congregant suggested we change the tagline from: “Emmanuel: God With Us” to “Emmanuel: God (is still) With us”….Indeed She is!

In Summary: These two scenarios are neither inevitable nor predestined. The fact is that we don’t know what the future holds, or exactly how the next chapter will be written, but we do know that we can and should have a hand in writing it. We don’t have to wait until to 2030 to write down and describe what has happened in retrospect; instead we can and should be a part of writing the next chapter. Just like the story of our own lives, we have the privilege and responsibility to “work out our salvation with a sense of awe and wonder.” As Antonio Machado has said, “My (fellow) travelers, there is no path; we make the path by traveling.”