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From our Pastor

Well here we are in November and 2020 is soon to be history in a short two months (YEAH!!!). As we prepare for the family and national time of Thanksgiving it seems hard right now to think what there is to be thankful for with the possible exception that we are through most of the year at this point. Yet, there are things that I am thankful for even during this time. I am thankful for the church family that have walked together in all the downers we have gone through this year. At the same time I remember the confirmation service in Riemer Park and what a almost perfect day it was; the giving of personal hygiene products that filled the room in the spring; the money raised to help with lunches for the school children when there was no school to get a decent meal at noon; the worship team that every Sunday worked to get a worship service out to the members via Facebook; there have been people who kept checking on shut-ins to make sure they were not falling through the cracks; and even the people who took communion to shut-ins so they could still participate even when they weren’t able to join in the live feed broadcast. There is also the beauty of the seasons we had of the rich green crops as they grew throughout the summer and the golden fields of harvest in the fall. There have been some fantastic sunsets, and I suppose sunrises as well, and sunny days to walk in and even get some yardwork done. We could go on but you get the point.

It seems to me that when we focus on the negative aspects of 2020, we go down a road of despair and depression that can only lead to factionalism and backbiting. Paul tells us we need to maintain a sense of gratitude and love especially in these times. Paul writes to a people who were not having a grand ole time in the town. At this point they were ridiculed, ostracized, even persecuted and killed in some places. And yet Paul instructs them to ‘cloth themselves in love’ and ‘be thankful’. When those times come that give us no reason to be thankful, we need to then wrap ourselves in the love of Christ and keep walking through the events of the day. Remembering the suffering Jesus went through so we may have some glimpse of hope even in the face of death and decay. It is far too easy for us to reject relationships with people because we don’t like their opinions or the positions that differ from our own. And even when those differences threaten to tear at the fabric of life and faith, remember that Jesus was often able to face it down with love rather than rhetoric or demands. Love can make a difference for the world—and for us—if we give it the chance.

We also need to remember the wondrous life we have in this place at this time. Remember that God does not abandon anyone. As John writes that God’s love was so expansive for all of us that he gave us the most precious gift of his son to guide and lift us in times like these. Paul states we need to ‘be thankful’ not for the suffering, not for the bickering, not for the fractionalization, but for God’s love which will carry us through all of it.
As the song says, “count your blessings, name them one by one.” But be sure you count God’s love and all that God has done for you in Christ Jesus and then go and serve those who want to persecute, ostracize, and beat and kill with the love of God. You will make a difference for more than just yourself.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Paul


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