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Goodbye to 2020

Here is an anonymous posting on social media — “Observations for 2020”

1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.

2. I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone. He asked what I was wearing.

3. The world is upside down. Old folks are sneaking out and their kids are yelling at them to stay in.

4. Every few days try your jeans on just to be sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.

5. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet, or should we just keep washing our hands?

6. The comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” has become national policy.

7. I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator.

8. I hope the weather is good for my trip to the backyard. I’m getting tired of the living room.

9. I never imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and ask for money.

Think about it. Just a year ago, kids sat side by side in classrooms, adults crowded around tables in restaurants, sports fans packed into stadiums. Going to the office meant, well, going to the office. Attending church meant driving to a church building. Face masks were worn in hospitals.

This past year has seen so many changes in the way we live and in how we regard our community and our institutions, including the church. Society has become even more polarized. Cultural and political clashes have deepened. People select sources of news and information that reinforce their own points of view often insulating themselves from those who think differently.

When it comes to the church, people are suspicious, resistant and even hostile. Many say the church is irrelevant and unrelated to their daily lives. Yet, during this pandemic churches often responded with more faith than fear. More perseverance than panic. We felt challenged, but we trusted God to guide us.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians illustrates how churches respond, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves.” (Colossians 3:12) Paul is speaking to us as the church. We are chosen, especially for times such as these. So how do we respond?

1. Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

2. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you.

3. Clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

4. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Col. 3:13-15)

This so perfectly describes how we should model our behavior if we intend to be influential in the world around us, especially in times of crisis. If we call ourselves Christians, here is what we must do, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:16-17)

How we act, what we say and how we respond to the difficulties surrounding us will effectively communicate what kind of Christians we are and what our church ultimately stands for. We are the representatives of the Lord Jesus in our community and in our world.

For 2021, the world is dramatically different from what we knew just one year ago. Our challenge is to be God’s representatives within that world. Difficult? Yes. But 2021, more than any other year offers new opportunities to be a representative of God.

People desperately need help. We can say, “I’ve helped enough.” Or we can stretch our faith and trust God to guide us.

May you have a blessed 2021.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.