Looking Forward In A New Year

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This past year has been a tough year for everyone.  For churches, people haven’t been able to gather in person as a community.  Pastors have learned to broadcast services and Bible studies or to use a service like Zoom to bring people together.  It’s been a challenging year.  It’s been a year to learn.  It’s been a year to adapt.  And most of us have adapted quite well.

Congratulations!  Pastors and worshippers have made it through a tough year.  Though it was stressful, you have persevered.  Not only have you persevered, but many of you have also thrived.  Both worshippers and pastors have adapted to the ‘new normal’ bringing to the spiritually hungry God’s Word and God’s message of love and acceptance in new and creative ways.

2021 has arrived.  What does that mean for your church?  Are you looking forward to returning to the way we worshipped before?  Or are you looking at new ways to worship and spread the Gospel, applying all you learned in 2020?

Personally, I don’t see a return to the way things were in February 2020.  Most of us are looking forward to gathering in person. However, many folks like staying home on Sunday morning and comfortably attending a worship service on their computer, phone or other mobile device.  Likewise, Session and committee meetings are better attended since there’s no travel time getting to and from.  In the Presbytery, the committees and commissions have met regularly with many members commenting that they like Zoom meetings because they no longer have to drive an hour or two to attend a meeting.

Things have changed and many good things have been revealed as we adjusted to the lockdown and living with COVID in 2020.  Is that a true statement for you?  Can you list a few positives in your situation? Can you thank God for the positive changes?

Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID or natural causes during this time.  Many of us miss hugging our loved ones from another household.  Many of us miss meeting our friends at church on Sunday.  Many of us miss gathering for mission projects.

Through all the positives and the negatives have you seen God’s hand at work?  When my father-in-law moved to hospice care, the family was able to place him in a facility that allowed family visitors.  Because he and his wife live in different care facilities and had been unable to see each other in person since March, this new arrangement allowed his wife to visit with him several times before he made the transition to the next life.  What a blessing that was to her and to all his children who could personally visit to say their goodbyes.  The family was sad to see this passing but were so thankful that they could say goodbye in person.  There are both positives and negatives in our COVID world.

As you ponder your path for 2021, let me urge you to look to God for guidance.  For your church, consider, “How does God want us to be church in this community?”  For both the church and you personally consider, “As the pandemic eases, what opportunities is God presenting me and our church?”  Our charge as Christ-followers is to be disciples and make disciples.  We, as Christ followers, have been called according to God’s purposes.  How will you respond to that call in 2021?

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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