06 Jan New Year Reflections
What an interesting start to the new year! On the one hand, Covid still rages via the Omicron variant, forcing disruptive airline flight cancellations over Christmas, changes to eagerly anticipated New Year’s plans, and more adaptations in our lives and our church. Yet on the other hand, a stunningly beautiful snowfall graced our area this week, extending our kids’ holiday break and requiring many of us to don our warmest hats and gloves and get out the snow shovels. Assuming you weren’t stuck in the I-95 snarl and your power stayed on, it was a lovely winter wonderland to enjoy, whether that meant staying warm by the fire or playing outside.
As we start 2022, I want to begin with a word of thanks. Calvary, you never cease to amaze and delight me with your generosity. Last year, you gave almost $17,000 to the Good Samaritan fund, and we disbursed all of it, in large part to support Marcelo’s wife and children following his untimely death last January. This support has been a lifeline to his family as they have made the difficult transition to life without him.
In addition to the Good Sam fund, you have given generously to make sure our neighbors eat. Your gifts to the Grace Episcopal food pantry, United Community, and the Souper Bowl of Caring provided our local neighbors with food, while Pigs & Chicks provides sustainable food and water resources for entire villages further afield. Through both special gifts and your regular contributions, we also supported our Presbyterian missions—the Christmas Joy Gift, our presbytery’s Unified Mission, the Presbyterian Women’s Blankets & Tools plus Birthday offerings, and our direct support of Josh Heikkela, PC(USA)’s mission coordinator in Ghana.
You did all this while faithfully upholding the daily ministry of this church. We ended 2021 approximately $7000 in the black even though we had passed a deficit budget to the tune of over $15,000. And you did it with Covid still wreaking havoc with our lives and our worship, as one-fourth of the year we weren’t even back in the sanctuary yet, and another quarter of the year I was away on sabbatical! The accounting side of my brain says, “I have no idea how we did this.” My heart of faith says, “God is good and faithful, and Calvary is a loving, generous congregation.”
It is humbling to serve alongside you and bear witness to God’s faithfulness in you and your faithfulness to one another and to our neighbors. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
While it is thrilling to start 2022 with such good news, I am not unaware that this time last year, on January 6, 2021, we watched in horror as insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building for the expressed purpose of denying the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Historians and journalism professionals have written prolifically about this event, as well they should. As a pastor, one of most disturbing aspects of the attack was the way faith was used to justify the violence that was perpetrated that day. In the months since, faith leaders have responded in myriad ways, including issuing a statement entitled, “Evangelical Leaders Statement Condemning Christian Nationalism’s role in the Insurrection January 6.” As we remember this grievous day in American history, I encourage you to read it and then to act on it as the Spirit leads you.
Yours for the Kingdom,