Good morning! And, happy new year! As I write, I stare at the calendar and notice that there are still a few days left in 2020, but I am looking forward, in anticipation, to the new year. As I have previously stated, this new year brings new opportunities. These new opportunities may give us a great start to regain some of the momentum that we lost in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, it seemed as if our worlds were turned upside down. There was so much promise and so many expectations. 2020 began with so much promise, and then the pandemic arrived, and we were all forced to pause.
Well, by the grace of God, we survived. I am reminded of Psalm 124:2, 4-5. The words remind me that we have a reason to be thankful. The Psalmist said, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side…. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.” That’s it! That’s the testimony! 2020 was arguably the toughest year many of us have ever experienced. From the tragic loss of lives, the political instability, the economic frustrations, mental health struggles, and beyond... to the reality that all of this may soon be behind us. The mere fact that the Lord has kept us is a reason to begin this year thanking Him for all He has done.
I am grateful. In speaking with colleagues, I have heard repeatedly how God provided when jobs were lost and how He comforted when loved ones became sick or even passed away. I can personally attest to fact that He showed Himself to be faithfully present when I felt isolated and in need of comfort. I am grateful.
Today, on this first day of January and the new year, I celebrate our first responders. From doctors and nursing staff, to all hospitals, and urgent care personnel. They never wavered in their commitment to provide quality service and continued to place service above self. Our EMT and ambulatory personnel as well. To our Law Enforcement Officers and Government Officials, thank you. Our teachers and parents, learning has not been easy, but they continued to create ways to build virtual classrooms and engage our children. Our children themselves need to be celebrated. Many have had to give up sports and extracurricular activities and still find ways to stay motivated scholastically. All of you carried the weight in a unique way. I thank God for you!
Although there are countless others who can be celebrated and honored, it is not my intent to overlook anyone. I want to celebrate Pastors and Ministry leaders. Many were unaware of their struggles. Pastors and Ministry leaders had to be strong, even when they were weakened. They had the charge of holding faith communities together, while it appeared everything was falling apart. They faced the reality that many of their parishioners were sick, hospitalized, and even transitioning, but could not visit hospitals or conduct funerals. They faced those things alone, and yet stood tall. I thank God for you!
This year, let’s press forward while remembering how faithful God has been.