Time flies so quickly. Now, believe it or not, December is here. It is time for us to look back at 2021 and look forward to 2022. In 2021, we have learned how to live with Covid-19. Wherever we go inside a building, including our church, we bring and wear a mask. Whether we like it or not, we have adopted this new normal life. In addition, we have dealt with all kinds of life issues that have sapped our strength. But God’s grace is sufficient for us. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. In grace, we can boast about our weakness. Christ’s power rests on us. (2 Corinthians 12:9) By grace alone, we have come to December 2021 and look forward to 2022.
Last week George Wentworth came to the church office and talked with Linda and me. He was surprised that November is almost here. Although we are still grappling with the pandemic, time keeps flying so fast. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. 2021 is almost ending. At this time, we reflect on gratitude for this year. We have been navigating uncharted territory because of Covid-19, and we are still facing it. The span of the pandemic is longer than we expected. That is why I’ve witnessed that many people who are feeling fatigued. Yet even in the midst of the pandemic, we are thankful for the many blessings we have received.
Summer comes to a close whereas fall is coming! There are signs that fall is on its way: The leaves of the tress slowly change their colors. The air begins to feel a little different. Temperatures begin to drop. Morning dew begins to appear. The grass in the yard grows slowly compared to summer. These signs affirm that fall is a time of change. Having lived in the Chicago area for 17 years, I would say that fall is a time of preparation for Chicago’s winter with Daylight Saving Time ending. Before daylight ends too early, I want to take a walk in nature or around the neighborhood.
September will soon be with us. It means summer is almost over and fall is coming. Daylight time is getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. I’ve already noticed some leaves falling from the trees, even though the scorching weather is still lingering. Children are beginning the new academic year 2021-2022. I pray that all students, teachers, staff, and parents are safe and successful. Our Sunday school will also be back beginning on the second Sunday of September, which is September 12. On this day, we will have our Blessing of the Backpacks and our church picnic as well. Our worship service will be outside. We ask all children to bring their backpacks for a blessing. After worship, the pot luck luncheon will ensue.
How is your summer going? I trust that this summer is treating you well. We have noticed that there are many places in the world affected by climate change and different types of the Covid virus. This news is a warning sign for us. Climate change and the Pandemic are closely linked to all of humanity. I would never ever have imagined the kind of world like the world we are currently living in. In addition, we face all kinds of problems with which we must deal every single day such as poverty, education, racism…and the list never ends. Like Martha, we are so busy that we “are worried and distracted by many things.” (Luke 10: 41)
It was a great joy to have in-person worship in our own sanctuary on Sunday, May 30. I was so glad that I could meet our beloved members of Good Samaritan UMC worshipping together in a holy place. During the last 15 months, the pandemic kept us from gathering in one place. Because of that, we tried to find alternative ways of worship. One way we found was Facebook Live, which we still have every Sunday morning. For this reason, I was so used to see cameras instead of people, because we had just a limited number of people who helped with the virtual service. Now I see people and preach to them. I feel that we are so close to being back to normal life. Now many people can go on vacation and do whatever they did before the pandemic broke out.
Likewise our church summer schedule is back. On June 12, our own UMW organized Rummage Sale. I thank you all who made this event possible and successful. And UMW continues to meet for our regular gathering on the second Thursday of every month.
It had been quite a long time through the last 15 months when we haven’t been able to worship in our building. We have resumed in person worship on May 30. It is such a joy when we come to worship together as a community of faith in sanctuary! We will continue to worship with caution, keeping to the guidelines. Here are instructions to follow:
When you enter the church building, ushers will welcome you and check your temperature. After that, you should sanitize your hands and put your offering in the plate. You follow signs when you come in and when you leave. You can sit in the designated pews that maintain 6 feet social distance. You are asked to wear masks inside the church building. Our sanctuary is disinfected before and after the worship service. There is no fellowship or any food after the service. These efforts will continue as we feel safe. We will also be having the worship service on Facebook Live.
Easter continues in this season of spring in which we feel new life through the beauty of nature. We are in the season of Easter. No person or no possession can take away our joy in Christ. We are safe in him. But we need to grow until perfection, as John Wesley encouraged us two centuries ago.
In the April Church Council meeting, it was decided that we target Sunday, May 30 for resuming in-person worship. During the other Sundays of May, we plan to have a parking lot service along with Facebook Live. Please let the church office know if you are interested in helping facilitate in-person worship. Our Easter joy will continue as we worship together on Sundays and study John Wesley through our Bible study!
Warm weather is slowly coming to us. We feel spring is just around the corner! Birds chirp. Trees and grass begin to turn green. The tulips, daffodils, and hya-cinths begin to grow and blossom. Daylight Saving Time began in March. We have longer days and shorter nights. People enjoy walking or running outside. Spring is coming to us along with resurrection of all life that is awake and alive. That is why we celebrate it and are joyful.
But before Easter, we know and experience that there is a time of trial, sorrow, despair, suffering, and even death. Even in those moments, God is with us whether we are aware of it or not. Because of God’s presence, we can make it through the darkness of our lives. The Psalmist faithfully confessed, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.” Yes, God is with us in Christ who overcame death.
Now we are in the season of Lent. Lent invites us to reflect on our grief. We are grieving because we have lost eight saints since last August: Joanne Ahrweiler, Jean Landrum, Dick Stein, Larry Milash, Joe Archie, Dukie McCarrell, K Campagna, and Claude Daughtrey Jr. Jesus knows our grief. And he showed us that grief is part of life. Because Jesus experienced many sorrows, he knows our grief. In the gospel of John, Jesus wept when Mary was weeping for her brother’s death. (John 11:33-35) I love this image of Jesus because it demonstrates that Jesus suffers with us. He weeps when we grieve. Jesus actively participates in our life journey instead of keeping a distance from us.
We Will be having a Lent Bible Study – led by Pastor Sang, beginning on February 24th at 6PM.
If you wish to participate – Please call us: 630-543-3725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The classes will be held on Zoom. We will send you the link when it is available. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will be joining us. It will be a 5 week study. If you wish to order the book it will cost you $17.79 and We can order it for you and you may pick it up at the church with your payment. Let us know if you would like have the book before Feb 6th. (You do not have to have the book to join the bible study.)
Let me begin my letter with “Happy New Year!” 2020 was really an unprecedented and difficult year. One of the reasons is that some of the people we loved have passed away. Since August, our church has lost five saints: Joanne Ahrweiler, Jean Landrum, Dick Stein, Joe Archie, and Dukie McCarrell. I am so grateful for the love and the dedication they showed for Good Samaritan UMC. We miss them. They can never be forgotten. Rest in peace in the Lord.