The Time That Is Given Us

We have never seen a year like 2020.  Unless you were around at the outbreak of the Spanish Flu, you have not lived through a global pandemic like COVID-19. And if you were alive in 1918, you don’t remember it today. 2020 brought the largest wildfire season in California history, burning more than 4% of our state. And it’s only October. This was the year that George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer, precipitating nationwide protests and the call to dismantle systemic racism.  The second most active Atlantic hurricane season on record came in 2020.  And now a supreme court vacancy and consequential presidential election loom large, with our nation more polarized than ever.

This is not a year any of us wanted.  2020 calls to mind the words of Frodo to Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Children and parents are saying this about remote education. The unemployed are saying this about the state of the global economy. Those who lost homes or loved ones are saying this about the fires.  And the world is saying this as it mourns a million lives lost to COVID-19. “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”

In response to Frodo’s lament, the wise wizard Gandalf says this: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  So what is the call of Christ on us for 2020? It is the same as it has been for 2000 years: love God, love one another, love your neighbor. Repent and believe the good news of God’s love for us in Christ. Proclaim that the kingdom of God has come near. Live and serve by the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed on the earth at Pentecost. Remember Christ’s death and resurrection for us in the Lord’s supper. Baptize in Jesus’s name. Teach others to observe all that Christ has commanded. Pray without ceasing. Live generously. Care for one another as the family of faith. Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. Confront evil spirits and unjust systems. Advocate for the widow, the immigrant, and the orphan. Tend creation as loving caretakers. Give thanks to God at all times. Glorify the God of heaven and earth.

And so we continue in Christian ministry at Knox in 2020. Though forced to “go remote,” we worship God each Sunday with songs of praise, prayers of the people, scripture readings, and gospel proclamation. We pray together each morning and offer classes on the Christian life and faith. We gather in small groups, team meetings, and for larger congregational events like the upcoming “Barbecue and Bluegrass.” We reach out to one another in compassion and care. We engage in missions, offering showers to the homeless and food to the hungry on our campus. We support the orphan, the widow, and the immigrant locally and globally. We love God and neighbor not in some other time and place, but in this day – “the time that is given us.”

May you know the presence, power, and peace of Christ in 2020.

Pastor Matt