Footsteps to Follow: Overcoming the year of uncertainty
As a pastor, I believe 2020 has been one of the most difficult years I have lived through. It has opened our eyes to how vulnerable we are.
Until this year, I thought that corona was an astronomy term regarding the sun. But as Christians, our focus needs to be on not what the seasons hold, as is exemplified in I Thessalonians 5, but on what Jesus has already done for us, so our focus turns to Him.
This Sunday many churches will light the pink Advent candle, which can be called the joy candle. The joy is exemplified through Mary, the mother of Jesus, as we read the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Joy is also heard as Isaiah 61:2 announces the Year of Jubilee and as Luke 3:1-6 tells the story of John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord’s coming.
This third Sunday of Advent is a time when we, in the midst of our problems, hear the guidance of the Apostle Paul to rejoice, a command for action. We are to rejoice for our blessings, not for all the “doom and gloom” we have experienced this year. It is a rejoicing that should be done every day, all year round for evermore. If we focus on negatives right now, that is what we are going to experience. When we focus on the positive through faith, then what the future holds (if not here, then in the Kingdom of Heaven), gives us reason to celebrate.
The other things we are told to do are first, pray without ceasing; prayer changes things and helps us discover what is important.
It also reminds us that we do not have control of what happens; that is being cared for by Someone who can do something about it.
Next, give thanks in all circumstances; there are a lot of things to be thankful for. If nothing else, be glad that what we have gone through this year is not our usual life. For some people, it is what they go through every day.
We are not to quench the spirit. There are times when we experience wonderful music, prayer, or worship and want to lift our hands to God in praise. Do not be afraid to follow the leading of the Spirit. Even those of us in more traditional faiths, that do not normally do that, sing songs about it. The hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” says, “for the church that evermore lifteth Holy Hands above.”
Do not “despise” the prophets and those who give us warning to put us on the right track, after all every one of us sometimes strays from that which is right.
Last, test everything; “hold fast to what is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21 NIV). That does not mean we put the Lord to the test but weigh the benefits to see what exemplifies our faith. The good we practice; the bad we leave out. All of us know what is right and wrong. The Lord said that he will write his law on our hearts so all know (Hebrews 8:10). Therefore, we are to no longer do evil.
By living this way, we go through sanctification, where the evil is removed, and we continue to grow in faith. As we enter a new church year in Advent and a new year in a few days, let us strive to move forward in our relationship with the Lord and take our minds off the tragedies and even foolishness of 2020.
By Pastor Katherine Behrens, Wallis Run United Methodist Charge