Newsletter - March, 2022

Greetings from the desk of the Pastor! I want to begin by saying just how overwhelmed and grateful my family is for all your love and support as we transition from a family of 5 to a family of 6. This church is a place that practices what they preach, and your hospitality and love is so appreciated.

As we gear up for the start of Lent, I wanted to take a moment to name one of the struggles that comes from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the things I have found to be most frustrating is that we spend such enormous amounts of energy just to keep our heads above the water. It is so challenging to build up momentum, both as a church family AND in our personal lives as well. Every time it seems like we are finally getting up some steam – there’s a lock down or an exposure to bring things to a grinding halt. It can be very discouraging.

However, I want to encourage you. We do not merely worship a God of second chances. We worship an incredible God of third chances, fourth chances, two hundredth chances. I think about the multitude of times when Israel turned away from God and God could have walked away from them – but He didn’t! In Hosea chapter 11, we see – “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me and my compassion overflows.” Even when we make mistakes, and we do things that anger God - He continues to call his people to pick themselves up, and begin walking in the light once more.

I think about how the disciples asked Jesus – “how many times must we forgive?” I hear an echo of that in my personal life, “how many times must I get back up again when life knocks me down?” Seven times? And Jesus turns to each of us and says, “No, not seven times – but seventy TIMES seven times!” (Matthew 18:22) We are called, as a people, never to give up. Life will knock you down, but we get back up again. One of the teachings I have found most encouraging is the very simple fact that God’s mercies are new EACH morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 writes, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Every single morning we wake up, God’s mercies are fresh and waiting for us. God works in renewal and revival, not sometimes – but ALL times.

There will be a day when no one is missing from our worship because of COCVID-19. There will be a day when we have coffee hour and greet one another with hand shakes and hugs. There will be a day when the youth are not stuck in quarantine and we finally have enough kids to play all the games we have been postponing! There will be a day when the Sunday school classes are full, and the parents don’t cringe when the children unashamedly swap germs in the ever more creative ways children do. There will be a day when the masks are gone, and we encourage new friends to come and sit right next to us. There will be a day.

In times of trial the faithful plant the seeds of hope. Not because we get to see the bloom right away with immediate gratification – but because we trust that given time, love and tender care – the seeds of hope will grow. In your life, in small, simple ways – plant seeds of hope. I think about that old time hymn – “Let there be peace on earth.” The lyrics say

“let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

But in this season, I’d like to alter those lyrics slightly to give us a message about hope, as well as peace. Let there be HOPE in this small town of Flushing, and let it begin with each of us. Let us be people who truly trust and believe in the steadfast love of Jesus. Let us be people who rise when life knocks us down – not just once or twice, but every single time, with every single curveball life throws at us. Because his mercies are new each morning, and he sustains us through our every trial. Let there be HOPE, and let it begin with you. But until then, I’ll “see” you on Sunday.

Pastor JJ