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As difficult as it may be to imagine, another year is rapidly coming to a close. It has been a year of celebration and reflecting on God’s love and faithfulness through the first 150 years of our church’s history. People have gathered to remember, rejoice, and rededicate. It’s been a good year.

But, as with every celebration, the anniversary year is coming to an end. The party is over. It is time to clean the kitchen, straighten up the house, and get back to our normal routines.

Personally, I found this year a delightful time to reflect on what God has done and continues to do among and through his people. For in spite of all our failures and shortcomings, we are God’s children.

We have been shaped and blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We respond to God’s grace by traveling around the world and across the street to bring the message of hope to a world so desperately in need of a Savior.

We are willing to give up vacations, weekends, and even workdays to help those devastated by floods and hurricanes. We willingly dig deep into our pockets to support kingdom work around the world. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the rain forests of South America and in the soup kitchens of the inner cities.

Even as we do all these things in God’s world, we realize that we do so in brokenness and struggle. We are not without our own failures and sins. We live in a broken world. We are part of an imperfect community. Yet I am thankful to call the Christian Reformed Church my church and my home. I am grateful to be surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses to the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus.

Recently the CRCNA’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution of thanks for the “competent and generous services of unnumbered volunteers” who are giving themselves and their time to the work of the Christian Reformed Church. The board took this action in an awareness that the work of the church is done not only by the staff in its agencies and institutions, but by the thousands of men, women, and children who volunteer time and resources to continue the good work begun by the generations that preceded us.

In one sense the anniversary party is over, but in another sense it is only beginning. None of us can predict what the next chapter in the life of the Christian Reformed Church will hold, but two things are certain: we can trust that God will be faithful, and if we obediently follow we know God will write a new chapter that will delight and surprise us. He has promised to be our God, and we have committed to be his people.

As I close this final “Dear Reader” column of 2007, I would like to use the words of the apostle Paul to the church in Philippi as my final thought for each of you: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil.1:3-6).

May God richly bless you all as we close this year with thanksgiving and praise.  n

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