From the Pastor's Pen



Pastor W

June:  Pastor's Message



    First, some good news.  According to the official figures, the rate of coronavirus confirmed infections in Montgomery County is 1/10 of one percent, and the infection rate in Greene County is half of that.  The number of deaths in our two counties is 3/1000  of one percent of the population.  While the virus is still out there, the numbers tell us we're incredibly safe here.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

    Next, some bad news.  Every one of those confirmed infections represents a fellow human being who is ill, and some of them are seriously ill.  And every one of those deaths represents a life cut short, and a family and friends who are grieving.  Years ago, when I was a newly-ordained minister, a church member gave me some wonderful advice: whenever you see a hearse or hear a siren, pause - if only for a moment - and pray for those who are suffering and in need of healing, physical and spiritual.

    One of the ways our government leaders have suggested for minimizing the spread of the coronavirus is the wearing of masks "when [you] cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas."  Based on what they said just a few short months ago, the value of those masks may be more psychological then effective in restraining the disease, but either way, I've worn a cloth mask at church (after the worship service) and I've worn one in some stores.  Our Council is recommending that you wear a mask on Sunday mornings for at least the next several weeks when you come to church.  We'll have a limited supply of cloth masks (handmade by members of our church) and disposable masks on hand, just in case you need one.

     But I'd like to invite you to think about what you might be covering up when you wear a mask.  There have certainly been examples in the news of people who have hidden their compassion, and transformed into ruthless, nagging troublemakers.  Closer to home, I've met some of the most outgoing people I know who have yet to pick up their phones to call their family and friends.  I've met folks who care deeply about their neighbors, and now the only thing they say they're praying for is their own safety.  There are nice people right here in our community who, when the coronavirus was announced, hoarded toilet paper and Lysol.  And there are folks who are ordinarily very generous and even self-sacrificing who now talk about nothing but their rights and their needs.  And what's truly sad is that I've come to realize that if I don't check myself often, I'm just as liable as anyone else to slip into one of these sad and selfish behaviors.

   It's not a new problem.  Almost 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul wrote, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing" (Roman 7:18-19).

    The good news is that it's fixable! Saint Paul goes on to remind us, "You...are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you" (Romans 8:9,11).

   Paul is talking, of course, about the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit was Jesus' Pentecost gift to all of us.  The Holy Spirit lives in us and serves as a comforter, a teacher, and a source of unspeakable power.  The Spirit can work through you to bring healing and strength and love to the people all around you.

     So go to the nearest mirror and take off your mask.  See the man or woman God created you to be.  See the man or woman Jesus redeemed you to be.  See the man or woman the Holy Spirit can and will enable you to be.  Yes, be cautious, but let go of your anxiety.  Yes, take care of yourself, but also take care of others.  And remember that "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18, emphasis added).  That's the good news of Pentecost for today and all our tomorrows.



                                                         Yours in Christ,

                                                           Pastor David J. Williamson      












































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