FROM THE PASTOR
School started back several weeks ago and college classes are now underway for most students. Still, Labor Day weekend is yet another unofficial signal that summer has come to an end. What a summer it has been! By Memorial weekend, the unofficial start of summer, we were enjoying low covid numbers. Many people had been vaccinated. Warmer weather allowed us to spend more time outdoors. Restaurants and other businesses were fully re-opening – though many short on staff. People were traveling again by air, land and sea. Hotel, Airbnb, VRBO reservations soared. National parks, beaches and mountain resorts were overflowing. Sporting events, concerts and festivals were at full capacity. Some people even went back to movie theaters. Many people in many places felt free to shed the masks and socialize again.
Here at Pleasant Grove we were enjoying worship mostly worry free for the first time in over a year. We had some great Sizzlin’ Summer Supper gatherings. Our Post-Quarantine Team made some enthusiastic plans for fully re-opening in September. We had our 150th Anniversary Celebration coming up. Hitting the re-set button for our youth group and starting a new dinner group for our younger adults. Our Trustees were busy getting our buildings and grounds repaired, updated, ready to go.
Then, in late July the covid numbers started creeping upward again and in a matter of just a few weeks we found ourselves in another huge, still growing surge that threatens to rival the winter surge. Many of our family, friends and neighbors have contracted the virus. We’re having to take some precautions again. Some of our plans for the fall have been postponed. We’re finding ourselves disappointed and frustrated.
We are all suffering from covid fatigue. We’re sick of being sick. Tired of being tired. We’re discouraged. Grumpy. Resentful. Maybe even rebellious. We care less about being care full. We want this pandemic to be over! Yet, we have little control over it, except to do our small part for the greater good.
The Bible is full of people and persons who went through trying times, not knowing when their trials and tribulations would end: Think of Noah and his family dealing with a catastrophic flood, waiting for the waters to finally subside. The Hebrews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, with many detours and delays, anticipating the Promised Land. Job losing everything, for no reason. Jesus coming as the suffering Messiah sacrificing his very life for the greater good. Paul enduring tremendous persecution, including beatings and incarceration for the sake of sharing the Gospel. They all passed through the deep waters of frustration and despair, the fiery trials of testing and tribulation to the other side of promise, hope, healing, new life! That’s what we’ve got to do! We must keep on keeping on: Trusting God to be with us and guide us all the way through these trying times. Focusing on loving God and neighbor as ourselves. Believing in and following Jesus one day at a time. In other words: Staying faithful.