As winter and the pandemic grind on, I see two lights at the end of this long, cold, hard tunnel: springtime and a flattening curve. Yes, we will have six more long weeks of winter, but we are a lot closer to the warmth and beauty of spring than we were six weeks ago. And even though the new cases and deaths from Covid-19 are still very high, they seemed to have peaked and are beginning to decline. Add this new fact to the news that 1.3 million people are vaccinated per day, and that should encourage us and give us hope. Those of you who read the Bible know that the story of God’s people through the ages did not take place in a rose garden; it took place in the wilderness, on the battlefield, during famine, plagues, and exile. But God’s people did not walk through those adversities alone; God walked with them and gave them the wherewithal to survive and thrive again. One of Jesus’ many names as Emmanuel, which in English means “God with us.” This is one of the great touchstones of the Christian faith.
Another great touchstone is the heart of the gospel: salvation by God’s grace through faith. Some of us are studying Paul’s Letter to the Galatians on Wednesday evenings, and we are rediscovering how Paul’s theology of Jesus’ life and ministry shaped Martin Luther’s thinking that led to the Protestant Reformation. The bedrock of Paul’s and Luther’s theology was that our salvation/ justification/rectification was totally God’s doing. The only thing we contribute to this process is the act of faith, which in reality is a gift from God too.
When we discover the radical, unconditional love/grace of God though the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our response of faith is basically an involuntary action. It is more akin to “falling in love” than a measured, intentional act of the will. I certainly cannot take any credit for falling in love with my wife or my children. To borrow a line form an old Motown hit, “I couldn’t help myself.” Faith is a response to God’s grace, not a work or an intentional act on our part. Truth be told, the Holy Spirit enables that to take place.
As we make our way toward spring and healing, I pray that we will let the Spirit of God’s grace and love carry us along. On February 17th we will have an online Ash Wednesday service that will kick off a six-week journey toward Easter morning. We cannot truly understand the depth or the breadth of Easter without understanding what happened on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. So I invite you to join me in taking a deeper dive into prayer, scripture, and worship to gain a new outlook upon the predicament we are all in right now. Though we cannot see it now, I firmly believe that hardship and suffering can teach us new things about God and ourselves that happy times cannot. One of them is that we do not suffer alone. God walks with us and carries us through the pain.
Please mark your calendar for February 14that noon. We will hold our annual meeting on Zoom (details below). Thank you again for all you do to support our ministry and mission.
Please know that Trinity's elders, deacons, and staff are praying for you, your loved ones, and your friends. If you should have a care concern or celebration you'd like to share, please email David or the church office.
Emma Baildon has tested positive for Covid-19 but has no symptoms. Please pray for a full and swift recovery. Her parents, Jerry and Lisa, have tested negative so far.
Ralph Everett had successful knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, February 3rd. Please pray for Ralph's comfort and healing as he recovers from surgery and rehabs his knee.
Missy Farrow's father, Ben Cheney, is improving, but has a good bit to go. Please pray that he continues to gain strength and sees results from his physical therapy.
Please keep Vickie Byrd in your prayers. Her beloved cousin, Bobby Snyder, passed away from a rare blood cancer last Friday, just two weeks after diagnosis.
The Session has calledthe annual meeting of the congregation to take place at 12:00 noon on Zoom on February 14th for the purpose of a) hearing reports on our ministry and mission in 2020; b) hearing a report on the new budget adopted by the session for 2021; c) electing three at-large members to serve on the congregational nominating committee; d) hearing the annual statistical report to the General Assembly; and for conducting any business pertaining to the above. The link for the meeting will be posted on the church’s private Facebook page and distributed via email as the date gets closer.