2020 strikes again … this seems to be the phrase of the year and for good reason. What started as a promising new year, filled with all the hopes and dreams a new year brings for most, soon turned very dark. I can promise that I never would have imagined a Global Pandemic in my lifetime – we are too advanced for something of this sort, right? In all my years teaching literature, I find myself becoming more and more interested in the time period of the literature. Because I love the classics, I continually bring out how unclean societies were in the past. We discuss disease and deaths, and the students are blown away by the filth of times not so long ago. But, did we ever imagine something like Covid creeping into the United States of America? No way.
Lock downs, masks and fear hit us all in a way no one ever imagined. We saw how important relationships are, how important being able to go wherever we want is, and how important it is to understand the meaning of grace. If I am being honest, I do not think I ever heard the word grace as much as I have since joining Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. If you look up the definition of grace, it is defined as “courteous goodwill,” but I think it is more than the definition reads. If there ever was a word to define 2020 for me, it is the word grace.
Think back to your own childhood if you no longer have young children of your own because I must say that it took grace to get through being a teacher of my own high school students at Plant and being a kindergarten teacher to my own daughter. I remember praying at night, “Jesus, please extend me some grace for my poor behavior in trying to teach Tori today…I know you blessed me with the ability to teach high schoolers, but Lord, teaching my own child is clearly not my strength.” Any parent knows the last quarter of the school year was TOUGH! If you were without children of your own to teach, just imagine how challenging it would have been for your own parents to become your teachers when you were school age.
Consider the relationships of those we lived with during the lock down period…that time was all about grace. Although my family grew closer and stronger together, I know that time was a challenge for so many of us. I recognize that relationships may have crumbled under the stress of being together 24/7…grace to one another may have been the answer, but hind sight is 20/20 (no pun intended) and I am sure many people were left broken hearted after those long months living in quarantine. I am thankful for faithful Christians and a solid leader at HTLC through these times because church got us through when it felt too hard…there were those days for me, even though I did cherish the time we had free of the obligations of normal daily life. Did your faith grow? If not, I hope you know that HTLC welcomes you with open arms and a new, amazingly wonderful Pastor.
Interestingly, our new Pastor spoke about grace on his first Sunday preaching at HTLC. He said, “I hope you will extend your new pastor some grace as we get to know each other…” and he referenced distance from the pulpit to the pews being long when a new pastor arrives. The distance being that we have not yet built relationship with him. You know what I think? I think that distance isn’t very far at all…through 2020 and through all the lock downs and fears, God was preparing Pastor Dan for us, for HTLC, and for HTLS. He is exactly what we need at this moment in time and I believe we already feel in relationship with him. So, yes, Pastor, we will extend you all the grace you need.
Now, will you extend others grace when they need it? As we near the end of 2020, I think this has been the year of grace – needing it from others and extending it when others needed it. If we can take one lesson from this past year, let it be that love does win. The love of Jesus Christ surpasses all, and in Christ we are given the gift of grace daily.