F A M I L Y P H O T O S BY BEN SHURTLIFF, SENIOR PASTOR I absolutely love the photo that was taken for our rededication weekend! Thank you St. Cloud photography! It reminds me of times I had as a kid looking through family photo albums on the floor next to my grandparent’s fireplace in the front room of their home. My siblings and I would go through photo album after photo album and look at photos of our dad as a baby, then boy, then young adult. The photographic family progression and smiling familiar faces always produced a warm nostalgic feeling and a sense of belonging. When I look at the photo we just took, I catch myself staring at it and going face by face, saying “Oh, there he is,” and “There she is,” and “Oh, look at that! They made it for the photo!” That same warm nostalgic
feeling and sense of belonging was kicking in. The Bible states in Ephesians 1:5-6, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” That means we are family. That means the photo on the front page of this newsletter is a family photo. You are my sister or brother because of Christ and we have all been adopted into God’s family. Each face in the photo is a precious member of God’s family and each face has a story to tell of how God adopted them from the broken family of this world to the everlasting family in Heaven. I am so grateful to do life with you, and beside you, on this side of heaven! We have each other, as siblings, to love and cherish. We have Jesus as our elder brother and God as our father. You and I are not alone. I love to see God’s family progressing. I love to see your smiling familiar faces. I love the warm nostalgic feeling and sense of belonging I have as your pastor. I wish you and our future family members the same happiness.