“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. “ Joshua 1:19
I have shared this verse before and keep coming back to it discovering new things. As you may remember, it was the passage that was spoken over me at ordination. It was special to me that day in terms of the way it describes ministry as a whole. Our ministry together takes some amount of strength and a modicum of courage, all in sight of God’s beautiful plan for us. So, I have carried it with me.
It also was read for us during the installation service, when I became your pastor. The person from the congregation who read it was not aware of the special meaning it held for me when she chose this passage for us. I happily received the occurrence as a gift of God. Interestingly enough, the passage now hangs on the office wall, as a memento of our experience together.
Now that COVID 19 has come to the Northland, this passage holds even deeper meaning for me. The night of our last worship service when we were all in-person, I went to sleep early, although this is very uncharacteristic of me. It seemed logical that the next morning was going to begin early and the day would be long and full of people with needs. I’m glad I did. The phone calls started early, as predicted. But, the calls were not people in need. Every call to the church office until noon was yet another person or group offering assistance to others in need. Courageous giving defines our ministry together. This courage that God speaks through Moses is based on nearly three and a half millennia of experience. God works in our hearts and makes us restless until we respond in love to the call and to each other. I cherish this about our life together.
The passage from Joshua may well carry us through this to next year. It seems to me that our circumstances are little likely to change before next summer. So, we will need to salt our courage with making wise choices. Although vaccines are much talked about, they are still far from ready. Moving into fall and winter, it appears that we will need to plan for this as we prepare for life “together.” The Session and its committees are working together to bring worship to your homes, opportunities to experience fellowship in meaningful ways, and chances to serve the community–all in a socially responsible, healthy way.
This is going to take some courage in the full breadth of our lives together. Courage to trust God’s intention for your life and your family. Courage to give of yourself by looking in on your neighbors and church members, inquiring on their health and well-being. Also, courage to support your church with time and talents. The Stewardship Committee will be sending out information regarding the Courageous Giving campaign. God intends us to steward every part of our lives. How we serve and what we give are equally important. By trusting God with who we are and what we are becoming, we learn of the depth of God’s love for us. God intends us to live with courage and wisdom. When we trust God and live in courage, we have the opportunity to see just how good God is to you and me.
Grace and peace,