A year ago things got really weird, really quick. Exactly one year ago this week we stepped into a new world. Businesses were closing, shelves were empty at the grocery store, people were wearing masks for the first time and there was just a strange feel in the air. A feeling of uncertainty and concern. How bad was this strange virus and how bad was it going to get?
As a pastor, there was another question I was pondering… How in the world was I supposed to lead our church when we can’t even meet together? Unfortunately, there was no standard operating procedures for pandemic ministry in the back of my textbooks from seminary. Believe me… I looked.
How was I supposed to preach to a camera? Was anyone going to watch? What impact was this going to have on an individual’s faith? How long was all this going to last?
With hindsight we all realize that these questions were just scratching the surface of what we would have to wrestle with as a church for the next 12 months. Horrible videos of racial injustice would surface, the pandemic would become a political issue, a presidential election showcased a deeply divided nation and the Capitol being stormed would shock us all on that January day. All of that on top of meeting online as a church, having Easter at home, wrestling with the different opinions on masks, people getting sick, eventually having a small percentage of our congregation meeting in person and having to say a final goodbye to some of our favorite people.
It was a difficult year.
But through it all God remained faithful to his church.
In Psalm 46 you see this picture of God being with us in trouble. A reminder that we need not fear no matter how bad things get.
This message is followed by a picture of hope…
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:4-5
It’s a picture of the Church. The Indestructible move of God that can’t be extinguished. Even by a pandemic. Our God is faithful. He has proven that over the past year.
For those that attend Oak Hills Church I couldn’t be more thankful for how you have handled the past year. You joined the Zoom calls, wore a mask when you were volunteering, passed out food to the community, raised more money for Kingdom impact than ever and welcomed in new church members. Some of you are back in person. Others of you are getting closer to the big return (We can’t wait to see you!!!!). But either way- you have been a part of a year of Oak Hills history unlike any other.
As the numbers go down and the vaccines go up - things are starting to slowly get back to normal.
But there is a part of me that doesn’t want to go back to the way things were.
Drive by birthday celebrations may be a thing of the past – but I hope we still have an overwhelming passion to love one another. We may not have as many zoom calls over the next year- but I hope we still have such a desire for Bible Study that we would go to any length just to dive deeper in our faith. We may not have overwhelmed hospitals- but I hope we still have a heart for loving and thanking our community’s frontline workers.
May we not forget what we have learned over the past year. We have been refined by a fire. We have learned the value of community. We have learned the mission matters more than the method. We have learned that God will see us through difficult times. And we have learned that nothing can stop the Church.
So let’s make the most of this year moving forward! We have been through a fire. Now let’s go be a light to the world around us!