“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4:4-9

In the early spring 2012, I arrived at Rush River for an interview with the congregation council. Hospitality and friendliness abounded as I was greeted, and snacks were shared by all during the most relaxed interview I had ever encountered. I was immediately drawn to the people here – the overall genuine spirit and enthusiasm for growth and mission both surprised me and excited me.

From the day you collectively and prayerfully decided to call me here as your Associate in Ministry, I was met with a lush variety of people-some that have a gentle spirit, some that are pure at heart, some whose hospitality is commendable, some whose work is honorable and speaks for them…..each person I have had the privilege to meet has been given their own special gifts, and it has been a blessing to see them active in God’s church.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoy about you all is your ability to share joy with one another. It’s so beautiful to share meaningful worship experiences, youth and family activities, intergenerational time, and holidays here…I am always confident that that there will be laughter, music, hugs, and stories shared by so many of you. I thank you for sharing those moments with me – and be reassured that, even in the struggles, the messiness, and the pain that a pastor or friends or a congregation might suffer, God still, somehow, gives us these moments of joy – hold fast to those as you seek to grow from those struggles.

The piece of scripture above is one that is very dear to me. I love the language, and the gentle joy that it brings to my heart. It reminds us that, when we see these things –this gentleness, honor, truth, justice, purity, and joy — God is at work – at work in the ministries that we are a part of; He is at work in our homes and within our families; He is at work in the people around us, and He is at work in each of us. Do you feel it? Do you sense His presence in your life? Can you tell that the Holy Spirit is filling you with the breath you need to do what God wants you to do? I see it…..I see it every time people walk into this building. I see it every time someone offers to help a child or senior. I see it in the excitement of the youth when they use their hands and words and feet to serve others. I see it in your questions. I see it in the small acts of kindness, and the willingness to sacrifice for someone else. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize, but if you are looking closely, you might just see it more often too. When you do, I encourage you to say it out loud…let that person know what you just witnessed and that it made you smile or filled you with joy. Because those are the moments when we rejoice together.

So, I want to encourage you take this scripture, and choose a phrase that speaks to your heart. Write it down, keep in in your pocket, hang it on your fridge or the dash of your car, and refer to it often. Cling to those words – and don’t be afraid to share them with others – it might just be God’s timing that you did! My friends, be filled with the peace that can only come from Christ, and take time to rejoice – rejoice again with those around you – and rejoice one more time at the goodness and grace that God has given to you.

Thank you for becoming a part of my story…

Laura Ramlow
Associate in Ministry