The year 2020 – and for that matter, the beginning of 2021 – was a challenge for us linguistically. We had to come up with new ways to say, “Unprecedented events” and “Living through extremely challenging times.” Just when it seemed like things could not get any crazier, they did. The pandemic that seemed to be on the wane in the warm days of summer when we got together outside and infection rates fell came roaring back even worse in the fall and winter. Thousands of deaths in the United States every day became the norm, and we struggled to understand how this could be. On January 27, 2021, 4,101 deaths were reported due to COVID-19. We’ve been told for a long time that things will get better – and they will – but we are still “living though exceedingly difficult days.” I also know that the pandemic is not the only bad news. There is a great deal of political unrest in our country, and that will not heal
overnight. Lots of people have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and many people have lost their jobs. Almost all of us miss just being with people in face-to-face ways rather than through Zoom, GoogleMeet or that amazing device that you can talk into and hear other people’s voices out of.
Nevertheless, not all the news is bad. There are always bright spots. Think of all of the doctors, nurses, EMTs, and Respiratory Therapists, who do their work everyday to save others’ lives. Think of the hospital cleaning staff, grocery store cashiers, and countless others who help us make it through one more day with food and other things we need. Think of the teachers going into schools so that students get the education they need and then spending time on Zoom to help the students who cannot come into a building. Think of police officers and firefighters still keeping us safe.
Volunteers of all kinds continue to make a difference in people’s lives because that is simply what they do. Meals-on-Wheels deliveries, people driving elders to medical appointments, people shopping for
those who are in high-risk categories, people sending cards and making phone calls just to “see how things are going.” People showing care and love. That is what we do, even in “challenging times.” That is what we do, especially in “challenging times.” All of those good deeds, all of that effort and sacrifice on behalf of others, that is also part of the story of 2020.
We could not do a lot of the things we normally do at Trinity in 2020. In a “year in review” article, I would generally talk about worship services, a cantata, Sunday School activities, youth trips, people volunteering in various ways, and times when we got together to eat. Some of our confirmation class youth did get to Calumet in 2020. We were there the weekend of March 6-8, right before everything closed down. But there was no confirmation camp at the end of June, no Vacation Bible School, no time in the fall when we regathered after summer vacations.
Instead, we had worship services on YouTube. We had confirmation class, Bible study, and other gatherings over Zoom. When we could, we worshiped outside. (Can you believe that we did not have
to cancel a single worship service due to weather from July until we stopped meeting outside in November? That was a gift.) People found new ways to volunteer, too, such as the many people who made masks. As I noted above, many Trinity people also volunteered (or continued to volunteer) in other ways such as Meals-on-Wheels, the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen and even some quilt making.
You can also check out Jeff Spivey’s article about the impact that your generosity had in 2020. There is much there that we can be grateful for.
2020 is over, and even though some of the “tough times” will continue through 2021, we have hope for the future. We have hope for the future because we know that Jesus holds the future. There will always be trying times in history. People lived through the Black Death, the Great Depression, the tumult of the 1960s, and the African World War (a war in central Africa in the late 1990s and early 2000s that killed more than 5.4 million people, making it the deadliest war since World War II). There will be better times, and there will be more “unprecedented events.” That is the way things work in this world. But we know how this history ends. It ends with a new heaven and a new earth. With reconciled people in resurrected bodies singing God’s praise and enjoying the best of everything (see Revelation 21 and Isaiah 25). 2020 had a lot of struggle. I pray that 2021 will be better. In any case, since God is with us, we can look forward to goodness, and that will help us make the coming days better even in the midst of struggle.

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