The gospels are chock full of varied perspectives on Jesus. We see story upon story in which people have unique takes on what Jesus is all about. Some think he is a prophet, while others say he is just a rabble rouser. Some see him as a healer, while others see trouble for the powers that be. Eventually, many will call him Messiah, but even that won't save him from the cross, where he is labelled a common criminal and executed by the state.

And the stories about Jesus don't end with the gospels. In our day, there are almost as many interpretations of Jesus as there are people. Even a quick glance at religious artwork will show you that Jesus is portrayed differently in every culture. Even theologians differ. Some see him as a justice-seeking truth-teller, while others focus on his perfection and holiness.

On Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, when Jesus is immersed in water and the heavens open and God says, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." [Luke 3:22]

Just before Jesus is plunged into the chaos and beauty and struggle of his ministry, he is plunged into waters of grace and love. Before his work begins and the opinions start rolling in...before anyone gives him any label, right or wrong...before the perspectives are shared and the art is created and the theological treatises are written, he has this moment with God. And God reminds Jesus who he is.

He is God's Son. He is Beloved. And ultimately, that's all that matters.

So often, we barrage each other with our opinions and perspectives, even when they are incorrect, hurtful, or only part of the story. A quick glance at any comments section on the internet will demonstrate this all too well. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks beautifully about the danger of our skewed perspectives in her TED Talk, which you can find here.

But when we find ourselves on the receiving end of people's opinions, let's hold fast to our good news: We, too, were plunged into the waters in baptism, and we, too, receive this message from God: We are God's children. We are Beloved. And ultimately, that's the story that matters.

And so, Beloved, when living an authentic life leads to people misunderstanding you or disagreeing with you or having a perspective about your life that is's what God has to say: "You are my child. You are Beloved. With you, I am well pleased."

Peace be with you, Beloved,

This Sunday's Readings
Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-22

All regularly scheduled Sunday Morning Education classes for children, youth and adults are back, 9:30 - 10:30 am.

Support Those in Need by Making a Donation to Pastor's Discretionary Fund. Good Shepherd is often contacted for assistance with fuel, utilities or rent by those in need. These requests are fulfilled through your donations to the Pastor's Discretionary Fund. To make a donation, mark your check or online donation "Pastor's Discretionary Fund."

Rams Mens' Ministry Dinner & Discussion led by Pastor Marsha Anderson: 
Tuesday, January 15, 6:30 pm in Fellowship Hall  In the last year we've heard a lot about sexism and sexual assault in the news. We'll explore these topics, including how they impact church life and what the Bible has to say about gender. All are welcome. $7 donation for catered meal is recommended. 

Preschool Open House and Art Show - Thursday, January 17, 6:00-7:30 pm  - Interested in learning more about Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool? Join us for our annual open house! Registration for the 2019-2020 school year for returning and church families is now open here.

Basketball Clinic
Saturdays, January 26 - February 23, 9:00-11:00 am in Fellowship Hall  Children in grades K through 5, spend your Saturday mornings on the court at Good Shepherd learning the fundamentals of basketball, and most of all, having FUN!! $20 fee includes t-shirt. Sign up on the Wittenberg Information Center or on Realm. 

For six weeks beginning Sunday, January 27, the Gospel Gathering will complete a study entitled The Twenty-four Hours That Changed the World during the Sunday School hour. Through interactive power point presentations, we will examine Mark's account of the last hours of Jesus' life and what those final moments mean to us in the twenty-first century.  Join us for a pre-Lenten Biblical study that will include discussions, art and music and that will set the tone for a deeper understanding of the Passion story.

Annual Congregational Meeting
Sunday, January 27, 12:00-1:00 pm  All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to attend this annual congregational meeting to help celebrate God's work at GSLC in 2018 and hear more about the plans crafted by our council, staff, and ministry teams for 2019. Light refreshments will be served.

More information about upcoming events is available in   t his week's bulletin announcements.

Health and Healing  for Sue Keehn; Jo Leavell, mother of Stephanie Darnell; Philip Fidler, friend of Cathy Crane; Billy Williams, aunt of Gail Phillips; and Doyle Peterson, uncle of Brenda Chaplinsky. 

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Freeman Moyo and Rosemary Mpofu.

Freeman is a quiet, friendly 18 year old young man.  He successfully completed his "O" level classes!  It is not clear if he will work on his "A" level classes at boarding school or proceed to post secondary educational plans.  During a part of his school break in December, with his Grannie's permission, he visited Annie in Zvishavane, giving him the opportunity to see what life was like away from his Mnene village.  His Mail For Mnene partner is the O'Neill family.
Rosemary is 23 and successfully completed her classes in Hairdressing at Zvishavane Vocational School.!!  She is doing a bit of hair work here and there.  The economy has gotten so bad that most women are cutting back on hair care and doing only the most basic.  Rosemary is working part-time at a second hand clothing store.  Her Mail For Mnene partners are the Peachey and Fusaro families.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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