Devotional 5/4/2020

I am not a person who hates change.  In fact, in the right situations I like change.  I have always enjoyed moving to new places (having children may have changed that).  Starting new schools or new jobs was fun.  I love a new work project that I am excited about especially if it does not deal with much paperwork.  I love visiting new places. In fact, I need a certain amount of change and newness in my life.  Without it I feel stale and sluggish.   In short, I like change....if I control the change.  I like change that I help start or that I buy into.  I do not particularly like change that is put upon me. 

Yet here we are in a season of change that has indeed been put upon all of us.  Further the change is because of something that brings no joy, just sickness and death.  I'm going to say it very simply- COVID is dumb.  It has changed so much in our lives and none of it was change that we wanted and alot we do not love.  And the changes will keep coming.  I am beginning to plan worship for when we are back in-person and the changes are going to keep coming.  Handshakes and hugs are not good ideas.  Offering plates should not be passed.  Some of you will even have to spread out more in the pews and find a new spot (ahem- Kilbourne folks the front pews are real and you can sit in them!)  Your Sunday school teachers and I have already been planning how you can resume safely.  The food pantry at Kilbourne is already adjusting in anticipation of a prolong period of high need.  And so on.  Basically 'normal' will not be coming back and I am not all that crazy about it.  

There are many days when I just want things to pop back to how they were.   COVID brought sudden change to my life and I do not like it.  I honestly cannot think of anything that has changed my life more dramatically in an instance other than having a baby.  But there I had love and joy to get me through.  Now I just have COVID and if I turn it on some depressing news.  

However, that is not quite true.  Because COVID has changed many things but it has no power to rob from me my joy or love and certainly not my faith and relationship with God.  Our joy, love and faith come from God and nothing, not even COVID, can rob us of those without our consent.  Even with all this change, change we do not like, we are to be people of joy, love and faith.  Today I want us to focus on those.  To focus not on the changes or the loss but on what God still gives us. 

So here are a few of my thoughts. 

I have had immense joy over the last few months of seeing how our communities pull together, stay together and get creative.  Ashley has a bell ringing team that was created to help sound a bell daily to remind us of God's presence- what a joy!  We have had members step up from both congregations to fill and run a food pantry- what a joy!  We have found community partners for the pantry that we never even knew- what a joy!  And then there is the joy of the season- our trees have bloomed and are covered in small leaves now- what a joy!  Birds are singing and the days are warmer- what a joy! 

I have also seen, felt and giving so much love.  All of those who have given me joy with the food pantry are doing so out of care for their neighbors- what love!  All of the individuals who are staying in touch with others in the ways they can- what love!  The people who are working and whose jobs have gotten more difficult for the benefit of others- what love!  Those of you who have checked on my family- what love!  The parents and grandparents embracing new ways to see their families especially the children in their lives- what love! Belle's preschool teacher has dropped something off at the house every week- what love!  

And so many times I have seen great faith.  People have been opening their Bibles more.  Trying new ways of worship.  Dusting off old ways of personal worship.  Even trying out Zoom worship for Easter!  And knowing that we will worship together but until then that God is alive and active in our midst wherever we are.  

Yes there has been so much change that I have not loved in these days but there is more examples of joy, love, and faith if I am willing to look for them.  There is certainly alot to be upset right now including all this unwanted change.  But let that not be our focus.  Instead, we can focus on what does not change unless we permit it- our joy, our love and our faith.  Today focus on these instead and see if you do not find the change and difficulties more bearable.  The truth is we are not at the end of this hard time and struggles will continue.  But joy, love and faith still abound. We just have to take the time to see them.  I also invite you to read Psalm 30.  This psalm reminds us that even in times of hardship that God is with us. This is something that will never ever change. 

With love,