“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21 NRSV
I remember a year ago when the experts told us all to go home and isolate for two weeks so that we could “flatten the curve” and put this COVID-19 thing behind us. We left the office that day with high hopes that we would still be able to gather for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday – but that was not to be.
It has been a year! So many things have happened to us and around us these past 12 months. We have watched our country go through the most contentious political season that I remember! Not since the 1960’s have we seen such anger and violence in the streets of our cities. Friends, neighbors, and loved ones have died from this COVID disease and other causes. Jobs have been changed forever, businesses have adapted and/or closed.
In the shadow of this anniversary, I sat and prayed and pondered what I might write to you, my church family, as we look forward to whatever lies ahead of us. As I tried to listen to the Holy Spirit, a sermon that I heard when I was a little boy echoed in my memories.
The preacher was the Rev. Chester Lippy of the Westernville Presbyterian Church. I was very young and my father was in the midst of one of dozens of medical crises that we lived through as a family. Rev. Lippy preached from this text in 1 Thessalonians and called us to give thanks IN all situations, not necessarily FOR all situations.
Friends, we have MUCH to be thankful for.
Rev. Hae-Jong Kim, a pastor who served as bishop of our area years ago, told the story of his mother’s final request to her children as she was dying. She expressed her great thankfulness for all that God had done in her life and asked her children to make a “Thank Offering” on her behalf to our God who provides for us even in our struggles.
I invite you to join Shari and me this Lenten season in prayerfully considering giving a “Thank Offering” to God for God’s love and provision for us even in this COVID situation. Not FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances! If the Spirit leads you to join me, please label your gift “Thank Offering Lent” – I will report back to you after our Lenten journey culminates in Easter Celebrations the way God moves among us in this Lenten gift.
Come and join us for church Sunday morning at 9AM for our Heritage worship service in the sanctuary or at 11AM for our new Contemporary service featuring Nairobi Smith leading worship in the chapel. We’ll save you a socially distanced seat. (the 9AM and 11AM services will be live streamed and available on Facebook and YouTube)
Thanking God for You and with You, Pastor Bill Mudge