November Greetings to you, Dear Friend,
We hope this note finds you doing well. How quickly we have moved through the summer and are now rapidly moving through the fall! The holiday season will soon be upon us and I wanted to update you on a few things related to this time of year.
- Normally, we have a Thanksgiving Service on the Sunday night before Thanksgiving. However, since so many of you worship with us online rather than in person, we will have our Thanksgiving service be Sunday morning, Nov. 22, so that it can be live-streamed for everyone to worship and give thanks to the Lord with us. There will not be a separate Sunday evening Thanksgiving Service (and pie social) this year.
- Due to COVID, we are not able to do a full Christmas Cantata this year, nor a full Sunday School program. Yet we still would like to have a special service of Christmas worship with various others involved. So, we are planning to have A Christmas variety program/worship service this year, on Sunday morning, December 13. That will include special music and possibly some other creative ways of celebrating the Christmas message. If you would like to be involved with that in some way, please feel welcome to contact the church office by Thanksgiving.
- Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Services will also be affected this year. Knowing that many will choose to worship online with us during that time, we are planning just two candlelight services on December 24 (3 pm and 4:30 pm), and will use the church basement for overflow if needed.
Normally during this time of year, there are many holiday activities and family gatherings. However, this year is different. Many things will be changed or cancelled due to the COVID precautions. In considering ways that families might have meaningful activities at home this year, we hope to soon be getting out some information on putting together an advent wreath with devotional readings, that a family can use in their home. We will let you know more about that when it is available.
The changes and stresses of this year have brought difficult times for many. Strange as some of these things might be to us, there really is nothing new under the sun. The Unisys Security index surveys more than 13,000 people in 13 countries, and is considered one of the only recurring global snapshots of citizen perceptions. It measures anxiety about issues like national security, disasters or epidemics, and personal safety. The 2017 survey showed that levels of U.S. anxiety jumped sharply since the previous survey in 2014, and came in at the highest levels since the surveys began. At that time, A Unisys senior vice president said,
“It’s an understatement to say that anxiety level is high, and we live in very uncertain times …. We definitely have seen a huge spike over the last three years.”
-Tim Johnson, “Pass The Valium: U.S. Anxiety Levels Climb Faster Than Rest of The World,” Miami Herald (6-20-17)
Well this year, in 2020, the Index score was 175, the highest level in the program’s 14 years. As expected, much of that is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal Security is the highest concern and Internet Security is the lowest concern among consumers, after having been steadily on the rise since 2017. What we learn is that even though it may ebb and flow, there is stress and worry in every age and time. Many of us probably operate with the thinking of humorist Will Rogers, who said, “I know worrying works, because none of the stuff I worried about ever happened.”
In Psalm 31, David proclaimed his trust in the Lord, and sought God’s deliverance from the enemies and wickedness he faced in his time (which was a lot). He was honest before God about his emotions and feelings, yet remained faithful in trusting God. In Ps. 31:14-15a, he proclaimed,
“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands….”
Come what may, good or bad, David was assured that every experience of his life was under God’s sovereign control. He knew there was not a single ‘time’ in his life that was not in God’s hands. It was with this confidence that he closed the Psalm encouraging his readers, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” These are good words for each of us to remember when the experiences of life seem overwhelming. Our times are always in His hands. Know that He is with you today, for your good, and for His glory. May He fill you with His peace in the present and hope for the future. Thanks so much for reading.
Grace and Peace,