I find myself full of gratitude today. I previewed the first Church School lesson for our new School of Love. It is awesome! Kelly Heuton has learned a whole new way to offer Jesus to the children of the congregation. I listened to the plans to launch affirmation classes this evening. Anne Williams has morphed everything to keep kids safe while she does what we always have – raise up disciples. I have heard praise for the music that David Fandrich made part of last weeks worship. At our prayer service this evening on Zoom, people were thankful to come together on Zoom to do what we do as people of God – “persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12) I wrote a letter to the congregation to thank everyone for the financial support we have received that has kept us going through the pandemic. Our finances are solid.
In short, I gave thanks today that our congregation has not missed a step or slowed down one bit because of the pandemic. The mission and ministry here are full speed ahead as the Word is proclaimed, the faith is taught, the hungry fed, the homeless cared for, and the people are in prayer, loving one another. Thanks be to God and thanks be to all of you!
As one of the folks at the prayer meeting mentioned this evening, “God does not cause 2020 (pandemics, wildfires, hurricanes, derechos). God does show up in these things and transforms them. In a pandemic, maybe God brings families closer together.” Exactly. If we can look around, God is making things new all around us. This is the message of the cross and resurrection. God did not avoid or defer the cross. Instead God grabbed a hold of all the suffering revealed in that dark hour and made a resurrection out of it. That is what God is doing right this moment in the congregation, and in your life.
The trials of returning to school in a pandemic will reveal what God can do in new and exciting ways. Perhaps an economic loss or job change leads to newness of life. I have known cancer patients proclaim that while the physical body is assailed by the disease, the spiritual person blossoms and blooms. New life is found amid the trials, the cross.
Maybe I can be so bold as to say it this way: The pandemic (derecho, economic problems, political shenanigans, hurricane, wildfire, or killer wasps) are no match for the people of God, for God is with us; God is our refuge and rock. We will not be slowed or stumble, we will run the race full speed ahead. In the words of Psalm 28:
Blessed be the LORD,
for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
O save your people, and bless your heritage;
be their shepherd, and carry them forever.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor.