Pastor’s Thoughts for January 2021

There are certain views that lend themselves to contemplation. Gazing at the stars on a clear summer night comes to mind. Or enjoying the
colors of nature as autumn peaks. Beaches, clear mountain lakes, the first snowflakes of winter, and so many other examples of the beauty of
creation leave us with a sense, not only of awe but of musing. Along with musing, reflection.

There are markers in time as well that seem right for contemplation, musing, reflection. One of those markers, the coming of the New Year, is, for many people, prime time for reflection. We often take time at the end of the expiring year to assess it, to dissect it, to consider what was good and positive in it, and what was negative in it. We use that assessment to resolve to make changes for the coming year, to leave the
negative behind and to look to increase the good, the positive.

As you are reading this we are at that point, at the end of 2020, and looking ahead to 2021. Some of us can’t wait to get 2020 behind us, to get back to some sense of normalcy. Others can’t help but wonder, “What if 2020 was just a warmup for even more chaos in 2021?”
2020 was a challenging year in many respects (I know, I’m REALLY stating the obvious there. Or perhaps even understating it). And the ramifications of some of the events of 2020 will be with us for some time; no one knows how long COVID-19 will be a threat. Also, the aftermath of a brutal election season will linger indefinitely. The civil unrest that was part of the year has yet to resolve. And as yet no announcement has been made regarding the fate of the 2021 Erie County Fair.

There is any number of ways to reflect on the year that was. We can be afraid for the future, for example. Or we can be optimistic about
what is coming next. We are just past the celebration of Christmas. I would ask you to remember back to the announcement made by angels to the shepherds watching over their flocks: “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:8-11) The instruction given to the shepherds is the same instruction given to us today: Fear not! And for the same reason: because Jesus Christ, our savior, who was born that day, IS still with us today. Further, we find instruction given to us by a now grown-up Jesus in Matthew 6:7. Jesus is asking a question that is still valid today: And which of you by being anxious (or by worry) can add a single hour to his span of life? We know the living God. We are His children. We know that Jesus Christ came to earth to give us the opportunity to have our sins forgiven and to teach us how to live lives pleasing to God. We, as Christians, can have joy in that realization not just at Christmas time, but all throughout the year. All throughout every year. And friends, there is much optimism to be had there!