Take good care to observe the commandment and instruction that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you:
to love the Lord your God,
to walk in all his ways,
to keep his commandments,
and to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
~ Joshua 22:5
I feel like I say this every year, but this year it’s even more true: I can’t believe that it’s September! 2020 has certainly been an unusually tumultuous and challenging year! The pandemic and its social and economic impacts, the political situation and the resultant polarization, the social unrest and racial reckoning, even the weather (hurricanes, windstorms, wildfires, tornadoes, etc.) have all added on to the more “normal” ups and downs of life – school and work milestones and transitions, births and deaths, illness and recovery, etc. – to make this a very unusual and demanding time. I recently heard someone say, only half-jokingly, “The past six months have been the longest 10 years of my life!”
Many of us had hoped that by September, things might have calmed down and stabilized a bit, but the ongoing sense of uncertainty is still with us. How are we to live in times like this? What can we hold onto?
The American poet William Stafford wrote this simple yet profound verse just 26 days before he died in August 1993:
“The Way It Is”
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it, you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.
As people of faith, what is the thread that we hold onto through the ups and downs of life, in times of both uncertainty and stability, transition and trial? What is our anchor, our foundation that keeps us grounded and even hopeful in times like these?
The answer, quite simply, is our FAITH. As the psalmist proclaims, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” From the first day of creation to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the coming of the
Holy Spirit to this very day and far into the future, God is with us. That is the good news of our faith
to which we hold fast. As long as we hold onto this precious thread, we will never get lost.
When the people of Israel had finally come to the end of their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and were about to enter the great unknown of the Promised Land, their leader Joshua reminded them how they were to live – love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, keep his commandments, and hold fast to him, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Over the summer we have grounded ourselves in the Ten Commandments, God’s Words of Love for Life in the Neighborhood. As the church program year begins this fall, we will continue to ground ourselves in the basics of our faith, focusing on the 100 Things Every Christian Should Know (based on the book 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation). We will continue to gather online for worship at 10:00 am on Sundays and to grow in our faith through our Sunday School and Faith4Life programs. We will continue to move forward in faith, serving our community, giving generously, and living out the mission God has given us. We will continue to find creative ways to connect with God, one another and the world. We will continue to be good neighbors and build God’s neighborhood in this time and place, all because we hold onto the thread of FAITH and live by it through these uncertain times.
In the midst of our topsy-turvy times, Chip and I continue to be so grateful to be serving with you, the family of faith at FPCY. Through your support, prayers and faithful engagement with our ministry and mission, you help us hold onto the thread and hold fast to the good news of God’s firm and abiding presence with us all.
Holding fast and moving forward in faith,
~Tami & Chip