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Wishing you a happy and blessed 2023! How beautiful was our church for the Christmas services! Maybe it’s a strange reaction, but when I looked around at the faces attending service that I don’t normally see throughout the year, I felt a great sense of pride at our beautifully decorated space and at the moving sermon that inspired a sense of faith and love in addition to a few laughs to bring everyone together in the moment. This is what it means to have a vibrant church community, and this is why we work so hard at keeping St. Andrew's healthy and sustainable. Worshiping together is truly a moving experience and I look forward to many years of spending time with my church family listening to the teachings of Christ together as we navigate through our imperfect lives.

I’m sure you have heard this before at this time of year, and I probably mentioned this last year, but it’s hard to get through the story of the birth of Christ, then celebrate the beginning of a new year a week later, without thinking of new beginnings in our own lives. I’ll refer to the following passage in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" I think in modern times, we may read this and think of the phrase “This is the first day of the rest of your life” or maybe simply think of things like New Year’s resolutions; but I think this message runs deeper than that. I read this passage and am reminded that once we accept Christ in our hearts, we have the tools and capability to do great things with open eyes and a clear-headed sense of purpose. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we accept Christ’s love, and I don’t mean large, show stopping accomplishments. I’m talking about the accomplishment of seeing our neighbors and truly caring about their problems; of making a child smile with a word of encouragement; of visiting the sick and infirmed; of simply bringing a little more love and compassion into this world. Indeed, amazing accomplishments.

I would like to take this time to remind you to take one last look at your ledger and see if you reached your 2022 pledge goal and make sure you are caught up (last time I will mention 2022, I promise). Looking ahead, I am very happy to see that most families have submitted their pledge for 2023 and many of you increased your pledge to help support our church moving forward. This means you heard the message of our vision and are eager to support it. Your support is the foundation for making St. Andrew's a sanctuary for all to gather, teach our children and perform wonderfully generous acts for our surrounding community and abroad. I want to thank you again for your generosity and willingness to be a part of this great endeavor.

In closing I just wanted to say how excited I am about all the fun programs we have planned for 2023. On top of bringing back our favorite events, we are going into 2023 on solid ground with permanent Music and Family Ministries directors. I look forward to gathering with you to celebrate Christ’s love in 2023!

God Bless,

Jeff Herrera

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