Enduring the Long Haul

It’s been a long time since we’ve worshipped in-person with one another. March 8 was the last time that we gathered on Sunday morning for Sunday school, fellowship, and worship. On March 15, the worship bulletin, announcements page, and sermon text were sent to people and posted on the church’s website. On March 22, John Wolter, Phil Wolter, Marlene Dirksen, and I worked together to offer live-streamed worship in the sanctuary.

Since that time, we have teamed with you and others in the life of the church to offer live-streamed worship from my home through the gifts of technology and the home broadcasting studio of Phil with John at his side. While it has been a joy to discover and share worship in new ways, 20 weeks, going on 21 for August 2, is a long time to be away from one another’s company! We do not yet know when we will worship in person again but as you know we are targeting September 13 as a possibility as long as COVID-19 does not prevent us from doing so in respect for everyone’s health and safety.

Seeking living messages of hope as we endure the “long haul” is important so that we can be encouraged and offer strength for one another. The Apostle Paul offered an enduring message of hope to the people of Rome as made known in Romans 5:1-5. He had compassion for their trials and sufferings as I believe he also would for us. Note these powerful words and post them near your computer, on your refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, in your Bible, or on your bedside table.

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

As we endure in hope together, know that the love of God and Jesus Christ will always be with you through the sustaining presence and power of the Holy Spirit! How so? It is made known through the creative and adaptable ways in which you continue to connect with each other: prayers, phone calls, emails, text messages, greeting cards, Zoom meetings, mission outreach through financial support and material goods, care for the church building and grounds, advancement of audio/visual technology, and safe-distancing practices with small group fellowship, study, and conversation outside the church. Fantastic, NOUMC! Carry on!

Faithfully and prayerfully in Christ,

Pastor Hoyte