Thanks in a Strange Year
14 “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. 4 You know the way to the place I’m going.”John 14:1-4, 25-27
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I am with you. 26 The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.
First of all, I would like to give a very big thank you to the South Hill United Methodist Church congregation. I received several expressions of appreciation for October’s Pastor Appreciation Month, including the one given during worship. I do feel appreciated, and thank you all for your prayers.
While we are focusing on thanking, we have just gone through our national day of Thanksgiving. This year felt different and strange. Larger groups didn’t happen. Travel didn’t happen as much. We were more cut off than we are used to. Our gut reaction would be to complain. But… this also gives us an opportunity for giving thanks for what really is important. Thanksgiving, the giving of thanks, is important to our mental well-being, our spiritual focus, and our physical health as well. Find something to give thanks to God for every day. Say it out loud. You’ll be better for it.
One of the biggest things I am thankful for this year is that we have been able to continue being church in the midst of strange times. The trappings become less important and the substance remains. What I mean is that our faith of hope and message of salvation through Jesus Christ does not change and is even more important to share now that it ever has been before. I think of the chorus of the hymn by Richard Avery and Donald Marsh, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we’re the church together!” We are, indeed.
As we head into Advent, Christmas, and a new year, remember that. We are the church. We are the church, together. Nothing can change that, unless we let it. This year has been different, but we can still celebrate the one true God. We can still lead the community with God’s love and care. The world is changing, but so are we. Let us seek to change in alignment with God’s will for us. Christ is come, and he promises his peace. He promises to be with us. He promises the peace that allows us to not be troubled or afraid, even when the world seems strange.
With a heart-felt attitude of thanksgiving, have a Merry Christmas and a truly Happy New Year! In the words penned by Charles Dickens in the mouth of Tiny Tim, may “God bless us, every one!”
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Brian Siegle