Dear First Pres,

   Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It's not because it's St. Patrick's Day eve; it's because it's the first day of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament! I love it because it is a mix of teams from all the conferences. Some are expecting to win the whole thing, and some are just happy to be there. And yet, when the games start, you never know what's going to happen. Still, many of us (including me), do our best to predict the outcomes of the games. Predicting the games is actually a huge industry in itself. But according to Professor Jeff Bergen of DePaul University, even those of us with some knowledge about the teams and the history of the tournament, only have a 1 in 128 Billion chance to pick a perfect bracket. That's a small chance, isn't it?
   If you're wondering, "Okay Jeremy, how does this connect with our church?" Here's my answer.
   We've been talking about the CityFest events for several weeks now. You already know that there is a Women's Luncheon on March 29 and a Business Luncheon on March 30. You already know that the main festival events will be on the weekend (April 1-2). You already know that we've been encouraging everyone to pray about who to invite or bring to the events.  But when it comes to actually inviting someone, I think one of the reasons we hesitate to do so, is because we think we already know that the answer will be "no."  Isn't that right? Maybe it's just me, but often I hesitate to talk to others about the CityFest because I'm sure they'll not be interested. I've made my predictions. The problem is they're just predictions. Are you hesitating to invite people because you've already decided that they're not ready to receive the Gospel? Have you already decided that the folks on your list will never be interested in coming to something like the Women's or Business Luncheon? The fact is, you can't really know unless you actually make the invitation.
   So, Beloved, may we have the courage to make the invitations as the Lord leads us. May we remember that God is the One who is drawing particular people to Jesus whether we have predicted it or not. And may we see Kingdom fruitfulness in our lives as a result of living in obedience to the Spirit.



P.S. I predict that Duke will win the tournament.