It’s funny to be writing a “Happy New Year” kind of Update when we’re halfway through January, but that’s what happens when you’re enjoying record-breaking winter storms at the beginning of the year. We decided last week that, with temperatures dipping into the -20° F range due to high winds and frosty wind chills, we’d be wise and conscientious and not imperil our FCCers by trying to hold a service.
But that just means that we did what we were planning on doing on the 5th this week on the 12th--focus on taking Communion together and sharing our Testimony Sunday time together. I was particularly happy for that last part, since I’ve missed the last few Testimony Sundays, in part because we often tend to schedule them on my vacation time!
This year in particular, I had a great deal to thank God about. Not only did our church family love us enough to provide a three-month Sabbatical for us, but they also loved us enough to want us back afterwards. But far more important than that, I wanted to thank God for protecting my brothers over the past couple of months. My brother, Lindsay, had a stroke in November, and my brother, Craig, had a heart attack last Monday. Thanks to God’s grace and protection, both of them are home and convalescing well, but both situations were still scary for everyone involved. It’s been a wake-up call to all of us that we need to be taking far better care of the bodies which God has given us stewardship of. By the time of Craig’s heart attack, I’d already lost 30 pounds by exercising and eating healthier, but I’ve still got a way to go.
Ironically, that was kind of the tone of our testimonies this year--not a litany of “God’s been giving me all sorts of personal goodies,” so much as “God has been so faithful in tough times”--or even, “God has blessed me by not allowing things to go the ways that I’d planned them.” Time and again, we heard about how a failed vacation turned into being able to save a backyard, or about how a missed opportunity turned into a motivation for helping someone far more later on, or about how a clump of hardships made someone realize how much they appreciate God’s everyday provisions. It was moving to hear about how God is so good not because of how often He says “yes” to our prayers, but because of how wise He is to say “no” to them.
In our Communion time, we came together to mend fences with one another, reach out to people on the fringes of our congregation who can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, show genuine kindness to those who are going through a lot right now, and otherwise remember one another and serve one another at the Lord’s Table. Everyone broke up and spent time with people whom God laid on their hearts, then took Communion with that person as a pair. It was beautiful to see--and it made for a long day as several sets of people stayed after for hours to have loving, tearful follow-up conversations with one another.
God is good--all the time. It’s a joy to be part of His family, and love well our brothers and sisters.