It’s getting rough out there. We knew it would.
With an election happening in less than 50 days, fires ranging to the West, hurricanes in the South, peaceful protests and civil unrest, and continuing racial tensions in so many cities, our whole world groans under the stress. All this is happening against the backdrop of over 200,000 lives lost in our country to the COVID-19 virus. And without worship in person and gathering around the table, we feel disconnected, frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry. But you know this all too well.
What can hold us together? For thousands of years, in times of plague, war, famine, and tragedy, people of faith have been sustained by a Word. This Word of faith is still sustaining us in these desperate times. But this Word is not just found in a book. It is living. We trust in Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, that is proclaimed to us and over us in worship and in relationship. This same Jesus has sent to us a spirit of hope, forgiveness, justice, and peace, that we cannot find in this world. It comes from outside of us. She keeps us connected, tethered to the truth that God’s promises remain, even and especially when we suffer and fail to see the reality of the in-breaking of the Kingdom here and now. Reformation and revolution is happening to us and in us every day. We are being made new. It’s seldom comfortable or enjoyable. But it is happening.
I’m trying to care for myself. As your pastor, I owe it to you to do that. I’m usually up early, in the gym, working on my own spiritual care with daily reading of scripture, trying to grow as a leader with the help of my clergy coach, trying to stay energetic and engaged with new ideas for our congregation. It’s been difficult at times. But the Word of God is my strength and along with your prayers and affirmations I’m able to keep going. My family is doing well. They are learning, working, caring for each other, and finding fun where and when we can. We enjoyed being together and participating in God’s Work Our Hands Sunday. The kids are already talking about Halloween and making their Christmas lists. We’ll be taking some time off together the week of Sept. 28th, and will travel to Taos, NM for a camping trip.
We were glad to have 5 students affirmed their faith last month, and have a few young students ready for the next round of confirmation class, which I plan to begin in Fall of 2021. For now, I will be producing a weekly Sunday School video and sending in-home activities for families to share together. I enjoy seeing Marissa’s YouTube video lessons as well for our youth group. New families are finding us online and participating as they are able. We are adapting and growing.
We are continuing to feed people. The Heart of the City Senior Meal program happens here every day at 2pm. Food is delivered hot in a to-go package, and seniors age 60+ have the option to take food home, or to come inside Edwins Hall to eat (2 per table) for 15 minutes and then are on their way. We have received additional grant funds from the Grand Canyon Synod to help with food ministry as well, and have purchased gift cards for groceries, made deliveries to families in need, and will look for more opportunities to reach out.
We are doing our best to stay connected to one another and those who are unable or choose not to access online worship. We send emails, texts, make phone calls, and organize the mailing of sermons, bulletins, and letters, thanks to Mary. Most are doing well, and staying safe and healthy, but we are all struggling in our own ways. Many experts are saying we will not see regular mass gatherings for another 12 months. Please continue to pray for clergy and support staff, along with our frontline workers, teachers, first responders, our homeless neighbors, and those in need of affordable housing.
I am grateful for the preaching of Pastor Matt, who continues to share his passion for the Gospel with us, who speaks God’s grace into my life, and helps us to keep our eyes on the cross, where our Lord promises, “It is finished.” We have experienced a long Good Friday. While we wait for the resurrection dawn, we know that there is no political crisis, no virus, no violence, no hardship – nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I’m holding on to that Word. I’m holding onto faith. I’m holding onto grace which I have received and experienced enough to know that God still with us and still for us.