It is hard to believe that in less than two weeks young people and teachers will have returned to the classroom, the tide of vacationers will begin to ebb, and the old “school year” rhythms will be back in effect. About this time of year I always feel a little sad because the summer seems to have gone by too fast. At the same time, I feel excited about what the new season will hold.

For the past few weeks I have been working with the rest of the staff to publish the 2014-2015 Program Guide which will arrive in your mailboxes (your USPS mailboxes, that is) next week. Inside the Program Guide you will find information about all of the different opportunities for worship, learning, fellowship, and service at SIPC in the year ahead. Pastors Steve and Jack join me in hoping that you will look closely at how God might be calling you to get more connected with your church family, grow in your faith, and share your gifts. This is, after all, the heart of Christian discipleship.

In the year ahead, I want to challenge you to live into this year’s theme: Hear the Story – Share the Story – Live the Story. We hear the story by attending to our personal devotional lives: in private by reading the Scriptures and prayer, and publicly by joining in worship and educational opportunities in the congregation. Sharing the story asks us to look for God’s power at work in our lives and to tell others about the good things that God is doing through Jesus Christ. This takes both attentiveness and boldness. How do you see God’s power at work in you?

Perhaps the most effective way that we share the story is by LIVING the story. The goal of Christian discipleship is to be conformed to the image of Christ, that is to live our lives as Christ would live them. Our journey toward the likeness of Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is work to which we must submit daily. This fall, we will share stories of people in our midst who are “living the story” in powerful but often quiet ways. As you hear their stories, consider how Christ is made evident in your life. How does Christ’s way of forgiveness, simplicity, generosity, healing, and justice shine through what you say and do? As your church family we want to celebrate the ways the Holy Spirit is shaping you and using you to shape others. And we want to walk beside you as you grow more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

May you enjoy these last two weeks of summer, and as summer gives way to fall, may you find yourself hearing, sharing, and living the good news story of Jesus Christ!