It’s a New Year…Thankfully!

It is the first day of a New Year!! And all God’s children say, “Thanks be to God!!” One of the scripture readings from the lectionary for the first day of this new year is the Aaronic Blessing or Priestly Benediction. It’s a fitting scripture for us to hear today. It’s comforting in ways I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about before. Comforting to know that the previous year is finally gone! Comforting to know that God is always with us!

To say that 2020 was difficult…is…well…an understatement. To say that 2020 was filled with fear and trembling doesn’t begin to describe the journey we just traveled. To say that 2020 revealed human behavior showcased through some of the most disgusting tendencies we’ve ever seen, behaviors that none of us should be okay with, was disheartening.

BUT – and this might surprise some of you – I am thankful for 2020.

“God bless you and keep you,

God smile on you and gift you,

God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Message)

I’m thankful that 2020 reminded me of the importance of family. 2020 forced my family to grieve deeply at the untimely death of my mother. COVID-19 is pure evil and leaves death and destruction in its wake. As a family, we experienced this death and destruction first-hand. Grieving the death of my mother has reminded me, and I believe everyone in my family, just how significant family is. Just how important and beautiful our relationship with God is as it is lived out through our family. Thank you 2020. I love you mom!

I’m thankful that 2020 gave Wendy and me an unexpected experience of the healing power of God’s touch. The holy work of God’s hands guiding the hands of doctors and nurses and medical staff we never dreamt we’d ever need has been a sacred time. Wendy continues to heal from her July 28th accident. It was an accident that will change her life, and mine, forever. God’s healing hands have been upon Wendy this year. And both of us have been changed as we’ve witnessed the healing power of those hands. Thank you 2020.

I’m thankful that 2020 revealed to me a deeper understanding of call. This was revealed to me most directly during the Western North Dakota Synod Assembly on July 17th. God has continued to reveal this to me as I have served as Bishop since September. The church is a big, beautiful reflection of God’s presence in the world, albeit far from perfect. Thank you 2020. May God continue to bless and keep Christ’s church!

Sisters and brothers in Christ, as we begin our journey into a new year, may God’s presence in our lives remind us just how much we are blessed and kept by the God of all creation. May God’s face shining upon us, bring grace upon grace in all we say and do. May God walking with us through whatever 2021 throws at us, give us peace beyond all understanding. Amen. Let it be so.


About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan. View all posts by Bishop Craig Schweitzer

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