December 30, 2020
Devotion“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything it in will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. The home of righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:10-13 NIV
I’m really not good at endings. On this day, December 30, 2020, I wish I could feel a sense of closure to the year. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, much of our daily life was either destroyed or significantly changed. Jobs and work ceased for some people and became work-from-home or work in dangerous situations for others. Churches did not meet in person from March-August, and in-person worship began in parking lots or sparsely populated sanctuaries. Time with friends and families morphed into Zoom meetings, Facetime, texts, and emails. A turbulent election in the United States will hopefully be resolved but stated, and unstated threats hang in the air.
2020 did not bring the physical changes that Peter saw as “the day of the Lord,” but there were similarities. Forest fires in the western US brought devastation to areas that have not seen such damage. Hurricanes hammered the southern coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the panhandle of Florida. Loss of jobs and revenue affected many individuals, families, and small businesses. Loss of physical contact with family and friends created feelings of isolation and desperation.
In the midst of personal, economic, and physical devastation, we as Christians are called to lead holy and godly lives. What does that look like for you? Kathleen Norris, writing in Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary of Faith, states, “And this righteousness is consistently defined by the prophets, and in the psalms and gospels, as a willingness to care for the most vulnerable people in a culture…orphans, widows, resident aliens, and the poor.”
We United Methodists have the example of John Wesley, who called his Holy Club and followers to participate in acts of piety and acts of mercy. Although it has been very difficult to participate in congregational worship, I have been blessed by daily devotions and opportunities to worship on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms. I have been able to sing (and partly glad that there was no one to hear me!), share in the Word, pray, give, and feel surrounded by the cloud of witnesses. I have also been able to participate in the ministry of mission organizations reaching out to those in need. Many have engaged in acts of mercy through sharing food, clothing, and other resources to families and individuals in need because of Covid-19 or other circumstances.
Jubilee Project has been able to remain open during the pandemic to care for those needing food and our youth in Hancock County, TN. We have seen an increase in the numbers of people coming to our mobile Food Bank at the Flat Gap facility and have been blessed by churches, individuals, and agencies willing and able to share food. Jubilee just distributed over 400 Thanksgiving boxes and 375 Christmas buckets to residents of Hancock County, and we thank God for all those who gave so that we could give. Our youth have been able to meet through Zoom at first, then in person following social distancing guidelines. They are so grateful for the opportunity to see people other than family members and to share in devotions and activities.
Writing this in the Advent season, I’m looking forward to the coming of Christ, to the new heaven and earth. I anticipate joining in the unending chorus of praise to God and the end of pain and sorrow. May we be found ready, living “holy and godly lives,” as we proclaim “Come, Lord Jesus.”