For me, I am thankful for:
God' Presence and Protection
There were moments for us as a family when this pandemic hit very close to home; when our son was hospitalized with the virus and our newborn grandson tested positive. Scott declined so quickly on the day he was taken by ambulance to hospital that through those late night hours, we feared the worst. But, we have a God who sits up with us, who, in those moments reminded us that our son was in His hands, who assured us and brought a measure of peace. Scott has recovered and is now working in the Covid unit at Trafalgar Memorial Hospital in Oakville. Riley had mild symptoms but is today healthy and growing!
God has watched over our church family as we have a called out to Him for protection. We need to continue to pray for our health care and essential workers and for continued wisdom for decision makers both at a provincial and national level. This thing is not over and we must not let down our guard regarding safety measures but as Christians we must not let down our guard of prayer.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6)
As I look back on all that has happened regarding the way we do ministry during a crisis, I see the hand of God at work preparing and sustaining His church. I think back to a few years ago when Sandra raised the idea of a church website -- our site was already established and operational when we most need to develop a greater online presence. I think also of Karen's iniative to record our worship gatherings. By the time we had to close the doors of the church we had the means in place to continue to record and post a modified worship experience that was well received by our church family and by many outside Valley. I'm also grateful for the learning that was 'forced' on me as we figured out the programming and software needed to ramp up our online presence.
Aspah began Psalm 73 with the words, 'Surely God is good to Israel'. We too must declare, surely God is good to Valley, to His people. He has provided what we need for such a time as this and through the continued generosity of His people, he has provided for all of our expenses, so that we could continue our ministry and faithfully support our Mission Partners.
Here, I think of the words of the hymnwriter, 'Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide' (Great Is Thy Faithfulness). God has given to us His divine encouragement on this journey through uncharted territory. And much of that encouragement has come through you, the people of Valley. Thank you for staying in touch with one another, for supporting and building up one another 'from a distance' and for cheering me on in my role as your pastor. Your support has greatly encouraged me and provided an extra measure of engery to keep going and get done what needed to be done, during a particularly demanding stretch.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
God's Direction, Inspiration and Assurance
Over these past five months, as we interacted as a Leadership Team and church family, as we worked out way through so many unknowns, God was quietly guiding our steps and affirming His leading through a wonderful spirit of unity and a determination and resolve among our people. I have seen just how precious and meaningful the community faith is during this season. For me, much of God's inspiration has come through the quiet support of you, the people fo Valley and from many outside sources that have been blessed by our ministry to them during this time. And, I have been blessed by God during private moments of prayer and contemplation and often when sitting at my desk, stuck in sermon prepartion and the Spirit would provide the right verse, the right word or phrase to keep going. I would whisper a 'thanks, Lord' and then push on.
All along God had directed, inspired and given to me, to us, His assurance. We still face an unknown future, as I take a break now, I'm not sure what tomorrow may bring, but we can rest assurred because we can trust an unknown future to a known God!
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. (Jeremiah 32:38-41)