Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
We are beginning a New Year with all sorts of “stuff” behind us that we would hope will stay behind us. But, that is not at all likely in regard to multiple challenges we are facing in the year 2021. What we can hope for is what we pray for and some of what we pray for is beyond our control. It is difficult to imagine change from the path we have been on. What is important to remember, is that history is filled with times that are difficult and change is inevitable. I was surprised this week to listen to a song written by Bob Dylan decades ago that could fit perfectly into the present time. It is called “The Times They are A-Changin.” Just for the fun of it, consider the lyrics below.
Come gather ’round, people Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
…For the times they are a-changin’
Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
… For the times they are a-changin’
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway don’t block up the hall
… the battle outside ragin’ will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
… For the times they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’ please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
…For the times they are a-changin’
I rarely consider songs that are written as having a lot of meaning. But Bob Dylan’s song resonates with the present landscape of possibilities in the year 2021. Many changes are possible; not all are good. The Christian foundation of our republic is eroding and we are witnesses. Immorality is becoming more acceptable. Displaying disrespect for God and Jesus Christ is becoming more common. It is a time of change and it is not easy to imagine the possibilities as being good. Please share with me if you see a different landscape than do.
When we consider that the times are “a-changin,” there is one thing that is absolutely not changing. That is the need of every human being for the forgiveness and help provided by Jesus Christ for over 2,000 years. We live in a long line of people of faith who have trusted God to accomplish in our lives things we have no control over. God does not change and faith in Jesus is the foundation of true hope in this life regardless of the times in which we live. What is certain, is that we cannot and should not trust people to heal the world and create peace on earth. What we should and can hope for is that peace on earth and our future well-being is the priority of Jesus. He will heal creation at the time God has determined. Our hope is in “Christ Alone.”
My time as pastor of Valley Park, over the past few months, has been devoted to imagining some changes in how we are doing ministry at Valley Park as the economy opens up and our members feel comfortable returning to church. One of my greatest concerns and a challenge to Valley Park is the prioritization of a renewed vision for reaching the “unchurched.” I am believing that the church has possibilities over the next year to reach many people for Christ. How do we do this? What do we need to prioritize in order to more effectively reach those who are not yet followers of Jesus Christ?
I am planning in February to have a congregational meeting to share some of my thoughts and to invite our members to pray for the future of VP. I am praying for some new leadership to help with ministries and I have been meeting with young pastors and observing how they are reaching the unchurched. There are things we could do at Valley Park with help. I am already motivated to be trying some new things. My present sense is that we will do something new on Resurrection Sunday that kick starts some of our Sunday programs. This, of course, depends on how things develop in the control of the pandemic. We will need to adjust but we need to be prepared. I invite you to pray for changes we can control with God’s help.
As I consider new possibilities, I want to encourage all of you to also see the future as filled with new possibilities in the ministry of Valley Park. Be excited about those possibilities regardless of what you see and hear. God is in control and we trust Him to do more than we could ever imagine. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is appropriate to our hope in 2021.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”Ephesians 3:16-21
The Spirit of the Living Christ dwells within us. We must prioritize embracing that reality through faith. The expression of God’s Spirit in us is the “love of Christ” that unites us as God’s children. His work in us and through us can accomplish more than we could ever imagine. It is the fruit of God’s power working within us.
Paul’s prayer is our encouragement. Let us, together, look forward to the future because of the possibilities before us made possible by God through times of discouragement.
God has great plans for our future and VP!
Connecting with Each Other
We want to express gratitude to our church family members who supported Project Angel Tree this year. We are grateful to Tanya Aguirre who organized it. We were able to support 20 children virtually this year! Praise be to God.
Some of our family and friends are feeling isolated and depressed. Several have been diagnosed with COVID but are managing well. Communication is important to expressing our love of one another. Being loved is part of our family life. Continue to prioritize keeping in touch with a few people so that they are mindful of VP’s commitment to them.
- Attend a Wednesday Night Bible Study at 7 p.m. via ZOOM. You can download ZOOM athttps://zoom.us/download. If you need help, call me.
- Meet with some of our Senior members on Thursdays at 10 a.m. in the Church courtyard.
- Fellowship and join our study on prayer at the Men’s Group on Saturdays at 9 a.m. in the Church courtyard.
- Sundays we enjoy time and fellowship after the live-streaming service in the courtyard where we can easily manage social distancing.
Let’s prioritize some time together in some of the things we are doing. I would like to see you participate.
Sincerely in Christ,
Valley Park January Birthdays
01 – Paul Boyadjian
05 – Karen Walker
10 – Liz Skinner
15 – Margo James
16 – Joe Rivadeneira
19 – Chloe Green (child)
30 – Marvin Spiva