“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30; NIV)

As 2018 comes to a close, many organizations, news outlets, and individuals will be reflecting on the past year, as well as wondering what 2019 will bring.  I’d like to do that now – in this in-between time that I hope has some “rest” for you – as I consider Community Christian Church of Marana

We have seen God do many awesome things thru us in 2018.  We purchased the property on which our Outreach Center has operated for a few years.  This purchase will allow us to build on the good work we have done there for well over three years now.  Kim Blankinship, through the very difficult circumstances of losing her husband Pastor James, who was a primary founder and long-time leader of the Center, picked up the cause and carries it on along with many amazing volunteers.  This year past, as usual, food and other items were distributed each week; disability equipment was provided; and, thanks to a community friend, 150 turkey boxes were given out at Thanksgiving.

Sergio Avalos began a Spanish-speaking Bible study, meeting Tuesdays at the Outreach Center.  And Frank Pick continued leading SOBER there on Fridays, helping people from all walks of life to turn to God for healing from addiction.

Our youth group, led by Greg & Holly King, Claudia Bartlett, Bryanna McClendon and DeShawn McClendon, took their first ever mission trip, doing a variety of activities in southern California.  And our youth continue to get more involved, helping lead worship and serve in various ways. Recently, they helped make “3-D” Christmas cards for veterans. These cards were delivered personally by our Wednesday Bible study group which visited with the vets at Arizona State Veteran Home in Tucson.

We welcomed in another excellent XPLOR resident, Emily Bray, who has quickly become a wonderful part of our congregation.

We went through the ups and downs of life together.  We celebrated the wedding of Tammy (Freyholtz) and Don MacMillan, and the baby blessing of Betsy Franchina’s new granddaughter, Ava.  We mourned the passing of Pastor James, Ray Franchina, Ron Langendorfer, and Patrick Nilz, but at the same time celebrated the gift of eternal life given through Jesus.  We welcomed new members into our congregation: Lisa Garcia, Ruben Garcia, Crystal Rakoci, Terry Stubblefield, Isaac Guzman, Christina Triemert, and Gabe Triemert – and these last four, along with Shane Kopec, were baptized!

On a personal note, I am so grateful for the gift that our church has given to me this year to travel with family.  As many of you know, our son Noah began college out of state, and so we planned (and I was granted) a lot of extra time to spend with him and family – some “rest” for sure.  To let you know, I will be away again after Christmas Eve through January 8. But after that, “vacation time” will go back to normal. I do look forward to connecting more with many of you in the coming year.

Indeed, I am looking forward to 2019 in many ways.  Pastor Nacho Guerrero has been leading the effort to renovate the garage on our Outreach Center property, as well as developing the property further.  We need your prayers for that, and also being able to obtain a “conditional use permit” to continue our work out there.

Early in the year, we are going to start doing a “live feed” of our worship services.  Much appreciation to Tedd King for his leadership here. This feed will allow those who can’t be with us, due to sickness or travel, to still be with us!  In addition, we pray it will be an outreach tool so that people can hear the good news and perhaps be drawn to come and visit.

I ask your prayers also for our children’s ministry, as Carol Freyholtz will be retiring as our coordinator (she still will be teaching).  We will be discerning next steps in the near future. Moreover, we will be welcoming in Claudia Bartlett as our new lead teacher in the preschool class.  Recently we have not had many children in that class, and would love to see lots of kids that age start coming.

I hope that you will take some time for the remainder of the year and into next year, to discern:

(1) how you might be involved in 2019 in the ministries of our church.  How can you best serve God here? Whatever you do should be soul-nourishing, not boring, not burdensome.

(2) what you might do to learn and grow in your faith.  Is it to join a Bible study? Commit to doing daily devotionals? Regularly listen to Christian talk radio?  We learn about the amazing grace and the easy yoke of Christ in these places.
(3) where you might find some rest in this season – to simply remember the reason for the season, Jesus the Christ, who loves you beyond measure, and doesn’t need your hectic activity nearly as much as your heart.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28; NIV)

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