This morning was different. Things just didn’t feel right, as the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Looking back on the history and traditions of Oakwood, this was Consecration Sunday - the day we celebrate everything we are blessed with. We thank God for all the gifts He has given us, and we prepare our hearts to give our own gifts back to Him. Then, we gather together to fellowship and share a delicious meal together… as a family.

But this year, things have changed. This year, words like “pandemic”, “social-distancing” and “high-risk” have entered our daily conversations, thoughts, and prayers. As a result, small numbers of us gathered in a bare sanctuary this morning for a worship service that didn’t reflect services of years past. As we worshiped, we didn’t look around and see the seats full of familiar faces; our attendance was limited, due to following CDC guidelines and protecting the vulnerable. We didn’t smell the tempting aromas from crockpots lined up on the kitchen counters; the kitchen remained empty and every outlet was open and available. After the service, we departed to have our afternoon meals in the privacy of our own homes. Yet, in the midst of our struggling feelings that accompany change, God assures us with a whisper: I was there.

I am there in the quiet stillness and I am there in the noisy commotion. I am there when you are many and I am there when you are few. I am there in the joyful coming-together and I am there in the painful loneliness. I am there when you understand, and when you are riddled with confused questions. I am there when you give thanks, and when you desperately ask for more. I am there when you gather, and I am there when you are alone. I am there when you seek me in your church building, or when you seek me from a corner room of your home. I am there… always.

As we approach Thanksgiving and anticipate the beginnings of the Christmas season, things will feel different. Despite this Covid-tainted year, things will always feel different. We have all experienced past holidays with certain loved ones no longer present, or with new additions to make room for. Some holidays bring new physical challenges, or strained relationships. There will always be changes from year to year, both pleasant and difficult. Let’s not allow this year to steal our joy. We have many blessings, though some have been lost in our tunnel vision. Find them… embrace them… treasure them. We are here, connected in spirit if not in body. And our great God, the King of Kings, is here: watching, protecting, healing, and rejoicing over us. Blessed be the Oakwood family, and blessed be the great and holy name of the Lord.

Tonight, I pray God's peace, His shalom, edges its way into your soul, comforts you... and you feel united in His love and fortified by our prayers.

In Christian love,

Pastor Kevin