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Walk confidently in 2021, and always

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NRSV)

What a year 2020 turned out to be!

From March until now, we have had many fears, struggles, heartaches, uncertainties, seemingly endless chaos in our government, and divisions among our citizens and among the world’s nations. The stress and anxiety of this past year have been unprecedented in many of our lives.

“Where is hope?” is a question that many are asking as we begin this New Year of Our Lord 2021.

As we journey into this new year, we must take with us the gift of Christmas, the gift and hope that is Jesus, God’s Son come down to us at Christmas and still with us following his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. In the midst of whatever we have been facing and whatever lies ahead, Christ is with us. That is the promise Jesus gave to his early followers and gives to us now: “I am with you always…” he said. The gift of His presence is so needed by us today.

I believe that we are ready to and will turn a hope-filled corner this new year. Vaccines will be administered, and new possibilities will rise in our government and in our relationships nationally and internationally. And God will be with us through it all.

This is a year, through the help and strength of God, that we will map out a “new normal” for our lives. As Christians, this new normal needs to be built upon the glorious commission Jesus has given us to share the gift of God’s love with our neighbors, no matter their ethnic or racial background, their primary language (remember: Jesus never spoke English, and his skin was not white), their economic level, or their sexual orientation.

This new normal needs to include us being the beloved church in our community, daily sharing the gift of Jesus, the gift of Christmas, the gift of love with others. We have learned through the pandemic to not allow the church to be contained in the walls of a building but instead for us to be the church in the community.

During this past year, my family, like so many during 2020, experienced the loss of a loved one. Our son died alone from a massive stroke, his life so quickly taken from us. One day, as I was struggling with his death and the empty spot in my heart, I was overwhelmed by the appearance of a beautiful bald eagle. I was driving on River Avenue when I saw that majestic bird soaring low in the sky. I pulled into a parking lot nearby and watched as that eagle lifted my heart to God.

I felt the touch of God’s hand upon me as God reminded me that our son, through the gift of Christ, was now soaring with God in heaven. That is the great promise and hope of Christmas; that is the great promise and hope of this New Year. God is with us-always. Whatever lies before us, God is with us. The gift of His Son and the presence of His Spirit remind us of that never ending and never failing love. As we thank God that 2020 is behind us and continue to be concerned about what 2021 holds for us, know that Christ has promised He is with us. Move boldly knowing the gift of His Love and choosing to share that gift with the neighbors God reveals to us.

Stay safe! Stay hopeful! Walk confidently in 2021 following the ‘Footsteps’ of Jesus!

–Rev. Bob Wallace, retired United Methodist pastor, Williamsport

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