A Message for A New Year

Dear friends,

How quickly can we bid farewell to 2020?

Who knows if it’s a record or not, but the first Christmas tree I saw this year was the week before Halloween. I was driving down S. Fulton Street at night and noticed the tree glowing through a neighbor’s large picture window.

No doubt, they’re ready for 2020 to be over with.

My back door neighbor works in sales at the Lowe’s corporate office. She said that Christmas tree sales have already been far beyond what they were this time last year. It’s shaping up to be a big haul for tree farmers in Ash County.

Although most did not, it’s funny how certain industries thrived this past year, thanks to Covid-19. DoorDash meal delivery service went bonkers, which is no big surprise since indoor dining wasn’t an option.

The same is true with home exercise equipment. A few weeks after the March shut-down, I went to Walmart to buy some exercise equipment. The shelves were totally empty. Amazon could hardly get their hands on yoga mats for several weeks last spring.

Likewise with anything related to DIY home projects. Boy, I wish I would have bought stock in Lowe’s or Home Depot. Sales have been out-the-roof.

The same is true with Netflix, Amazon, most any supermarket, and liquor stores (so I’ve been told!).

Speaking of which, do you remember when the whole country stopped and watched “The Last Dance” together, ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls? Or when every kid in the neighborhood created sidewalk chalk art? And everyone was planting a Victory Garden?

This morning, friends from Virginia sent pictures of their still-thriving Victory Garden. They were never much for gardening until this year, but my goodness did they produce a big harvest. A sign of hope for what is to come.

I know a lot of folks struggled this past year, and we should never forget that part of the story. Depression and loneliness are reaching frightening numbers. Too many people are still without meaningful work.

But 2020 definitely had some bright spots. I’ll always remember the time spent with our kids this past summer — time we never imagined we’d get, given their ages (24, 22, and 18 at the time). Krista and I honestly thought we’d be empty nesters by now! … but Covid had other plans, and we’re grateful.

We’ll also remember long summer nights that weren’t overwhelmed with work or responsibility — nights when we could sit on the front porch with a good book and a glass of wine.

I know, it’s time for 2020 to go. I’m ready to close the curtain and turn out the lights. This year-that-feels-like-ten-years will long be remembered as one of the most challenging in history.

But I hope you will remember it in fond ways, as well — when things slowed down a bit and friendships seemed to deepen since, well, we had time to sit and chat and enjoy each others’ company.

No doubt, I will grieve with those for whom this has been a particularly difficult year. I will also give thanks to a God who has always promised the gift of presence during times like these:

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,” God says.
“And when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

As we step into a new year, may we remember God’s promise of presence and the wonderful blessing of community. If nothing else, this past year has shown us that these two gifts can guide us through most any challenge at all.

May they be God’s gift to you for 2021.

Pastor Rhodes


Related Posts

Get Involved