We made it! Through a particularly harsh winter, that is. Aside from Covid related issues, we broke more than a few snow fall records. All that marvelously fluffy snow that we weren’t allowed to ski in.
"You run in all this snow?” I get that question a lot in the winter. Or, “It’s minus 13 out there. Won't you freeze your lungs?" (Just so you know, the answer to those are “yes” and “no” respectively)
Personally, I don't mind the winter. It's the length of winter I take issue with. If spring temps returned every Valentine's Day, that would be just about right.
Here's what gets us through it all. We know that it's not going to last forever. We know that one morning we'll wake up to apple blossoms and the smell of fresh cut grass. We know there'll be a day when the long johns will go back to the trunk. We get through because we know that the short, dark days are only for a little while. And in the meantime, we have each other to shovel with.
The great message of Easter is not so different. The end of a long period of struggle, days getting longer and longer until there is never any darkness again. And the coming of new life to a garden that's been frozen for a good long time.
It's an incredible story, the one that tells about the painful death of this amazing man Jesus, whom his followers believed to be God himself, come to live on earth in flesh and blood, just like us. A divine human being. After Jesus is laid to rest, his friends come to the tomb to tend to his body, and discover that his body is gone. In their grief, the voice of an angel comes to them to say "Jesus is not dead. God has raised him up. And now, for him, and for you, death is no longer the end, but the beginning." Unbelievable.
What we are left with is this simple truth: that for God, all things are possible. Think about it. If God can bring life out of death, then there is nothing that God cannot do. And that fact affects every aspect of our lives. Are we stuck in a rut that seems way too deep to ever get out of? The God who raised Jesus can get us out of any rut. Have we been walking under some sort of cloud that we can't seem to shake? No cloud is darker than death, and God proved to be a greater power than even that.
Can this church shine as a bright symbol of God's love in this community, so much so that people around us will say "Maybe God is real after all?" Of course. God promises us as much. Ordinary people, becoming instruments of miracles.
We are excited about so many things in our future. The Love Your Neighbour initiative is sending waves of caring and solidarity across the town and showing people around us that we’re actually trying our best to be like Jesus.
We’re excited about doing VBC in the summer again. It might take a slightly different form but won’t it be good to have kids back in the church building?
Sure, it’s been a hard year, but the Holy Spirit has empowered us to continue on with so many ministries, from virtual choirs to welcoming youth into membership to suppers feeding the community in Jesus’ name. We’ve been through a dark time, but we’re so thankful for God’s faithfulness and so filled with hope knowing that a light brighter than we can imagine lies at the end of the tunnel.
We look forward to our Good Friday and Easter Sunday virtual services. (April 2nd and 4th). We have appreciated that so many, both within and without our first Pres family, have tuned in to virtual worship for over a year now. We are also so grateful and humbled by your generosity that has allowed this body of Christ to keep shining brightly into all corners of this town.
All things pass. New life always returns. Daffodils, robins, and apple blossoms are just around the corner. As I type this, a cardinal is singing at an impressive volume outside my window, coaxing the crocuses to burst through the thawing earth.
And they will. Be glad about that. And think about this: what new life, what empty tomb, what incredible possibilities has God prepared for all of us who put our trust in him?
In Love and friendship, Tim