“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” – John 15:16
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:1b-2
These are some of the Bible verses that have been on my mind during these times. “Unprecedented times” is a phrase that keeps being thrown around, and these verses are some of the reminders of God’s love, presence, and comfort that have sustained me. I am thankful for the opportunity to attend this year’s synod assembly which was the first virtual assembly held in our Northeastern Ohio Synod. Glenn Fasnacht and Jane Zaremba served as our voting members for Christ the King, and thanks to Lynn Sares for her technical support. The Rev. Dr. Laura Barbins was elected on the fifth ballot to serve as our next bishop in the Northeastern Ohio Synod beginning on December 1st. Bishop Abraham Allende is retiring, and we are thankful for his leadership, passion for the Gospel, and commitment to serving the church. It was a surreal experience to see over 300 people gathered for a two-day Zoom assembly, but the assembly itself provided meaningful worship and the election of various ministry officers and committee members, along with the election of our next bishop.
Speaking of Zoom, I will be offering weekly Bible studies through this platform beginning the week of October 5th. I will host a Wednesday Zoom Bible study starting on October 7th from noon to 1 PM, and a Tuesday evening Zoom Bible study starting on October 6th from 7-8 PM. Both of these studies will start with the book of Jonah. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate in either of these Bible studies, and I will send you the invitation.
In the midst of so much anxiety, uncertainty, and chaos swirling around us remember that God is with us, to love, guide, and comfort.
Living in God’s amazing grace,
Pastor Matthew Groenke