“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1
If there was ever a verse to more aptly describe this year, it would be Proverbs 27:1. We know that things will not go as planned. It happens even in ‘normal’ years without the looming pandemic…we plan & God laughs, right?
Prince of Peace had big plans for 2020. Pastor Kollmeyer retired after 30+ years. Pastor Scott was installed as the new Senior Pastor. The calendar in the church office was already packed with events & activities- the KMC musical, confirmation, mission trips, VBS, Lutheridge, men’s and women’s luncheons. And it all came to a halt.
For all the hope that we would resume ‘normal’ by summer, by early fall, by the holidays, before the new year…and it didn’t happen. So POP spun on a dime to make ministry happen.
After improvising the first week or so, we began worshipping online together. Pastor Scott provided daily checkins on Facebook & Mrs Paula held youth group on Zoom. Easter was especially strange- worshipping from own homes, jubilant in the holiday but not quite so with being apart.
The ministry teams worked hard to try & fill the gaps. Drive bys with treat deliveries, take home faith kits delivered to the children, and Popsy surprise visits helped to shine a little light as we waited to be together again.
We found ways to outreach. As a congregation, we kept tithing & giving our time to the church, in what ways we could. POP teamed up with Generations Together to provide school supplies, Thanksgiving dinners, and angel tree gifts. We prayed for each other & cared for those who needed support.
Our ‘together’ looks pretty strange these days. The parking lot worship services of the summer brought us closer, linking the car attendees with the online audience as we took our first stab at live streaming. Then in October we joined again for indoor worship. A long awaited moment! Strange, sitting in little groups, but closer to what we are used to.
Finally finding a rhythm once we moved back inside felt better. Yes, things are different. No, we are not back to full operations. Yes, many elements of our ministry are still missing. But maybe, just maybe we could start to plan ahead a little farther.
Remember that joke about planning?
Yeah, God is just shaking his head now. Because we never seem to learn that lesson (even in the midst of a year out of our control).
Out of control comes in many forms, but can be best summed up in the events of last week. First, anonymous donors paid off the rest of the mortgage! Tremendous news! An event that no one would have dreamed possible in a time of financial insecurity, but one that also opens the door to new opportunities.
Second, Christmas Eve in-person services were cancelled. After spending weeks planning a special evening of worship, the weather washed away (quite literally) everything. Once again we celebrated apart. Once again we longed to worship alongside one another.
So here we are, nine months later. Still in a similar boat with similar fears as we had in March. Sitting on our hands as we try to imagine what we will be able to do in the coming days, weeks, and months.
So how do we look to the future? How can we plan for 2021, when our plans seemingly have no power?
Romans 12:12 says “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Sounds easy enough. But we already know how difficult that is. Patient in tribulation? When we are already so impatient to move forward & beyond all of this?
It will be a challenge. It always is a challenge for our human hearts to let go and let God. But let that be our guidance for this new year, to take this verse and imprint it on our hearts & mind. To use it as we plan, rejoicing in what we get to do, being patient as we wait for ‘normal’ days, and being constant in prayer- for each other, for our church, our country, our world.
We will continue to move through this- with God, alongside each other. We will continue to love & care for one another. And we will keep looking up to the One who lights our path.