To describe something as “surreal” is to say that it is “bizarre, fantastic, difficult to believe.”

“Surreal” could certainly describe 2020, the last vestiges of which we are counting down, many of us with glee, I suspect. If a year ago you had described what we now take for granted—everyone wearing masks, professional baseball games with posters of people filling the empty seats, NFL games with fake crowd noise, size limits on family Thanksgiving gatherings with ominous warnings attached…no one would have believed it. The whole darned thing is surreal and, of course, we are not yet to the end.

But may I lift up two GOOD surreal experiences in MY 2020. The first, of course, is that I am a grandpa. When I hold little Cecilia and meditate upon every beautiful curve and dip on her sleeping face, I can scarcely believe that this is MY granddaughter or that my son…my little boy… is now a father who is doing all the right things (including getting life insurance last week. Atta boy, Coop!) Cecilia is a redeeming moment in this unreal year, even though I am still coming to grips with my newly granted appellation: “Papa.”

Here’s a second, GOOD surreal experience. Beyond These Walls is in the final lap. For nearly 30 years, our church family has lived as most American family lives: with a mortgage. It’s just that OUR mortgage was a little heftier: $9 million at the high point…$581,000 per year in debt service! We talked, planned and prayed about eliminating that debt but, honestly, all of us, even the deficit hawks in our midst, grew accustomed to this huge mortgage.

Yet now, by God’s grace and your generosity, we are in the bell lap of our race to eliminate every last dime of debt and free up hundreds of thousands of dollars…EVERY YEAR…to care for and serve the communities and regions around us…beyond our walls.

Last Sunday I announced that our debt was down to $380,000! You were amazed and your response said so. This Sunday, you’ll be a little more amazed to hear what has happened in just one week. And if all goes to plan…and we are praying it will…by December 31, we will pay off our last dime of debt and, on January 3, we will celebrate a fresh, new start. New year. No debt. Wow!

One of the most exciting Beyond These Walls initiatives is our Port Orchard campus. We were set to launch Port Orchard last Easter…but COVID had different plans. Well, Pastor Megan never gave up, neither did her team and we will celebrate that resiliency during Sunday’s service when we commission our Chapel Hill Port Orchard launch team.

Like I said, it’s all a little surreal. And fantastic! I hope you will join us this Sunday as we ring the bell on our last lap. It seems surreal now…but it is about to be VERY real! And I am excited to share that with you.

Pastor Mark