The year 2023 is almost behind us. I probably say this every year, but I can’t believe we are already here. This year has been a big year for us as a community too. We have seen some real highs and lows and all in between. Through it all, God has been here, right in the middle with us. After all, that is what Christmas is all about, right? God dwelling with us? Let’s reflect on that together.
At the beginning of the year, we launched a new meeting rhythm for our GCs called Pathways. We added in “others week” and a monthly “prayer and potluck” (RIP potluck). I was encouraged by the response to this new rhythm and what it accomplished in our little communities across the city. Neighbors met and served, as well as each other. And it’s safe to say we have prayed more together as a church than ever in the history of Emmaus. That’s a huge win in my book!
Also, towards the beginning of the year in February the Liturgy Team put out our first Lent Guide for daily readings and prayer leading up to Easter. On the flip side, the burn rate was looking a bit scary. So, in March, we began praying together and considering what a partnership with Scum might look like.
Not long after that we got to have our first event collab with them when we did Good Friday together at Sterling! And Easter was so fun this year too with potlucking and having everyone and their mom (literally) on the worship team. You also all showed up for my coffee cart launch which was pretty rad.
This summer was a huge shift for us. So much happened! In May at the Members Meeting, we decided to move into Scum and dreamed together about what we hoped for out of that partnership and by June we were saying goodbye to Sterling. We had a ton of collaboration with Scum right out of the gate with the Intensive on Spiritual Practices, Man Camp and Women’s Retreat in the Fall. We took care of the Clarkin’s after Bekah’s surgery, got Jesse and Heather hitched, met Charlotte at the CCU church fair and I am sure so much more I am forgetting. We also got to see the Hilners finally make it over to Liberia!
Our Fall on the other hand was rough. We spent much of it in prayer for baby Luke and unfortunately had to say goodbye in October. Even in the immense sadness of that time, God was holding us together and I witnessed some powerful care and love in this community.
God’s Not Done with Us Yet
What is amazing is that by the time we hit our Members Meeting in November we were I think all just stunned by many of the things listed above. I think we all felt the weight of what God had been bringing us through all year. I saw a lot of gratitude pour out in that meeting from you all, and it was amazing to dream together for the future in all of that.
As I sit here reflecting with Advent on the mind, I can’t help but say again, wow. Many of us have had moments over the last couple of years where we have asked, “God what are you up to? What are we waiting on?” I don’t know that I could answer those questions with the details we all might want, but as I look back at 2023, I can say confidently that he is with us and will be no matter what comes with the new year.
I (Aaron) enjoyed reading all the above from Ben. What a year. I wanted to chime in and just ask for you to be praying with us for next year. In January, the elders are going to spend a couple of nights away drawing near to God and considering what He might have for us as we look ahead. What is God up to next year, the next ten years? How do we, together, continue to build on our formation? Love of others? What does it look like to prioritize our community while we serve the Scum community? Those are just some of the pieces we’re considering, and I’d love for you to be considering us as we ask God to help us consider you.
Love you all, Merry Christmas!
Ben & Aaron