January 6, 2021

Dear Friends,

I wish I had a better idea of what to say today.

In this moment.

Social media doesn’t help. People who have been lobbing their 280 characters back and forth at each other for years now are tossing verbal hand grenades with renewed vigor. Maybe it cathartic for them. But hand grenades don’t bring healing. Or hope. That’s not what they’re designed to do.

We are all weary. Depleted. No reserves left to absorb another body blow. Between news of spiking virus numbers, new reports of someone else we know testing positive, and the lack of being face to face with so many we love, the virus has touched even those who have somehow avoided infection. We are weak and vulnerable. Shell shocked.

When you scan the horizon for signs of hope, it’s hard to see any. Back to normal – whatever that means now – seems like a pipe dream. The vaccine news is an emotional roller coaster ride.

We look for answers, for a way to understand what William Cowper called God’s “frowning providence.” Is this God’s judgment? Spiritual warfare? Birth pains?

It’s my job to have answers, but on days like today I have more questions than answers. So I come back to what I do know. I come back to what Jeremiah came back to in Lamentations 3:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:23-25)

I make my prayer what the Psalmist prayed after he asked in Psalm 2 “why do the nations rage?”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

And I add to it this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, a prayer that Amber Cochran posted on line tonight. We would all do well to make this our prayer for the days ahead.
It’s a new year, and we have new life to celebrate and rejoice in together. On Sunday I shared about Michael and Elizabeth Shaffer’s new baby girl. I mistakenly noted Savannah’s birth date as Christmas Day instead of New Year’s Eve. Here are the correct details. And this week, Michael and Mary Johnson said hello to Izzy.And while I had to snag this photo from Facebook, I also want to give a shout out to first time grandparents Eric and Deb Riedy on the birth of their granddaughter, nine pound, 21 inch long Ruby Mae VandiverMay God bless each of these precious little ones!

This Sunday, I’ll tell you about the time I decided to grow some facial hair, and my boss put a copy of the book Dress for Success on my desk, with a note that pointed me to the part of the book that said “The response to facial hair is almost always negative in corporate situations, and the only men who should wear it are those men who must compensate for some other weakness in their appearance or personality… people do not trust or believe men in goatees. Perhaps it’s the devil image…”

There’s more. I’ll fill you in in a few days.
See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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