January 21, 2021 (Week 45)
Sisters and brothers in Christ, good afternoon!
A couple of significant things this week. On a secular level…. On Monday, MLK day was observed. Here we are encouraged to remember the life and work of a truly remarkable person. He lived love, and encouraged us all to do the same. I hope that each and every one of you will have taken some time to reflect on his message. I have many of his writings, but if you don’t, just google it. It’s available extensively and for free on the internet.
We have now witnessed the swearing in of a new administration in our federal government. For many people, this was a moment of enthusiastic hope. There will be some who will continue to work against democratic practice and dialogue, and whose intent will be to sabotage progress. But it remains my hope and prayer, that our elected leaders will negotiate in good faith, and do as much as they can together, united and strong for the sake of the greater good, despite partisan interests. I for one, am encouraged by a promise of a spirit of bi-partisan camaraderie and am so very grateful to see the departure of the poison of narcissistic demagoguery.
COVID19 continues to ravage our country, despite many advances in testing and vaccination. At the time of writing this letter, John Hopkins University reports worldwide statistics that show nearly 100 million people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, with over 2 million deaths. In the US, despite having only 5% of the total world’s population, and consuming fully 24% of the world’s resources, we find ourselves suffering nearly 25% of the world's COVID19 confirmed cases and deaths. That seems counterintuitive, but it is the truth. We are at near 25 million confirmed cases, and 407,111 deaths (4,238) yesterday alone. California now has the dubious distinction of being the first state to surpass 3 million cases, with 35,080 deaths.
As our healthcare professionals struggle to manage this crisis, our governmental leaders are now hopefully coalescing around strategies to deal with the health crisis, the economic crisis, and the social upheaval that the pandemic has created. The situation is bad. No question. But for the first time, I am sensing a bit of hope. Cautious optimism. Be careful, and ensure that your behavior shows you to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
I am not saying this to be preachy to anybody. This virus is getting to the point where it is touching too many of us; without exception. My daughter tested COVID positive a couple of weeks ago, and is only now feeling better. I cannot tell you how anxiety provoking that was for us. There are a small number of COVID positive individuals in our congregation, but thankfully so far, no loss of life. We are ministering to them as best we can, but it truly seems impossible right now. I have couples in crises, ready to end relationships and tear apart families, all due to the stresses from this terrible virus. I implore you, be careful! For your sake and the sake of your family! For the sake of all God’s children, be careful!
Our council met in “retreat” this past weekend by zoom. It is hard to meet that way, for that long, but it was indeed a fruitful gathering. We had opportunity to discuss many exciting things that are a part of our “five year plan”, and most especially for the next year. As the list is revised and clarified, you’ll hear more and more about this. It is truly a very exciting time to be in Christ’s church! We’re going to be serving God in the service of ALL God’s people, in very tangible and highly effective ways! I haven’t felt this excited for the challenges of the future, since we first traveled as a young family into Africa more than 25 years ago. I believe this to be a function of the sense in which COVID19 has made everything new: all of our responses have been reinvented and re-crafted in ways that show creativity and more potential for outreach and mission than we’ve experienced in many years!
Sisters and brothers, if you find yourselves “at the end of your rope,” because of the stresses around you in life, please feel free to give us a call. We are doing our best to be here for you, and be present to you online, (https://www.godamong.us), but we really want to hear from you if you have a need. We pray for all of you regularly, but we miss seeing you and talking to you in person.
Remember to be a blessing, for you are richly blessed!
- Before worship, around 9 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here:
ANNOUNCEMENTS: - 2020 Annual Congregational Meeting Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be Sunday, January 31, 2021 at 11:15 am. Please plan ahead to attend. Here is the Zoom Link. Topic: ILC CONGREGATIONAL MEETING Time: Jan 31, 2021 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8584995166
- Because of the Stay At Home orders, Incarnation cannot host a two-week Interfaith Shelter Network rotation this year. However, Interfaith Shelter Network has secured housing at a hotel in Escondido and caterer to provide meals for up to five individuals and/or families. In lieu of volunteering for the two-week rotation, please consider financially supporting Interfaith Shelter Network for housing and meals. Just put the word, shelter, on the memo line on a check made out to LCI or donate on Incarnation’s website.