3 years ago I had never heard of The Lehigh Valley. Yes, I had heard things about our church. I had heard about Lehigh and even Bethlehem Steel, but that was it. I came across a talk that Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), gave at their annual meeting this week. In his talk, he talked about the "economic renaissance" of the Lehigh Valley. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the Lehigh Valley's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at an historic high. The Lehigh Valley Economy ranks 65th in the United States. If the Lehigh Valley was a country, it would be the 87th largest in the world ranked by economic output.
My son as an economics/biology major in college would read the report more skillfully but, even I can conclude that this is good news for the Lehigh Valley and good news for us.
As I read the article, I couldn't help but think about a different kind of renaissance and report for our city and the Lehigh Valley. What I long for and pray for is a "spiritual renaissance". I pray for the 665,441 people in the Valley. I pray for a report that would say that all our children have food to eat and are receiving a solid education. I pray that all would have the opportunity to find meaningful work with a living wage. I pray that our city would thrive in every way. As the prophet Jeremiah spoke--We should "seek the welfare of our city." But, even more than that, I pray that people will find the life that Jesus Christ offers.
A "spiritual renaissance" has to start in us. As we live into our new season as a community of followers of Jesus... As we recommit ourselves as disciples... As we get a new church name... As we move into our mid-week Locust Street campus...As we discern our mission and vision moving forward including potential new locations and new ministries... All of that to live our lives as an invitation for people to find and follow Jesus.
Every day, I pray for you that your walk with Jesus would grow deeper. Every day, I pray for you as you live your faith in your homes, jobs, and neighborhoods. Every day, I pray for our community, that they would see in us the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Would you join with me in praying not only for the economic renaissance of the Valley, but also for its spiritual renaissance!
I can't wait for Sunday worship. I will continue in our series, Seven Days: Journey to the Cross. It's Thursday and we will see a different kind of Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane that night, we don't see the baby at Bethlehem. Or the smart boy in the temple teaching the teachers. We don't see the brilliant teacher or the man who miraculously fed thousands, or healed lepers or even raised the dead. We see a man struggling. We see a man overwhelmed and at the end of his rope. He laid it out to his intimate circle of disciples--I am anxious, I am overwhelmed... I don't know what to do... Stay with me and support me and pray. On Sunday, we will look at Jesus who was overwhelmed and alone as he faced the most difficult moment of his earthly life.
Walking with you,
Your pastor and friend,