Hello First Baptist faith family, I have missed you! To say “what a year” is such an understatement, and yet, what else is there to say. Each of us have been affected by the news casts of racism and police violence, extreme weather throughout the world, political change and unrest, shooting rampages – even within our own province, and on top of it all, a global pandemic. We have taken in a lot. Sigh.
What has happened since March 2020 could not have been predicted, our world has flipped upside-down. When Charlie and I gathered with you for our baby shower to celebrate our little girl on February 9th of last year, I had no idea that would be my last Sunday with you. I was put on bedrest the next day. If I knew, I would have hugged a few more folks, made room for longer conversations face to face and celebrated being one big church family a little more. That day still brings tears to my eyes, the joy and support we felt has helped carry us over this year when we haven’t been able to gather.
We all have stories from the past year of the hardships and how you’ve navigated these uncharted waters. I’ve heard tips from the best way to wear your mask to how to make bread with no yeast. And I have also heard a lot about the unexpected joy, sometimes even in the smallest gestures.
For me, my greatest joy was the birth of my daughter Joanna and the opportunity to stay home and watch her grow (like a weed!). The unexpected joy came from having my husband Charlie working from home for the year. I learned a surprising way to help teach my step son grade two poetry during online school (especially when you write poems about annoying little sisters….). We enjoyed family drives, watching the neighbours decorate their windows in support of healthcare workers, family picnics in the park and “a big heart for small gatherings” with our families. We’ve gotten pretty good at jumping between filters on kids messenger to video chat those we can’t see in person. We expanded our vegetable garden to reduce grocery store visits.
I also connected with God in a new and different way over this year. At the beginning of my maternity leave I treated myself to a new Bible. I often get a new one for different milestones in my life (high school graduation, starting a masters degree, beginning my ministry at FBCH). I decided I wanted to read it though in the year. Not to plan a youth Bible study, children’s stories, lectionary group or sermons, but just for me. I found a guide online that broke it down with a bit of First Testament and a bit of New Testament or a Psalm for each day. That became my daily pause. In a year of late-night feedings, uncertainty, ever expanding change, those 15-20 mins were just mine. I read the stories of families with new and fresh eyes, the stories of exile and being removed from what was expected sounded too familiar. And I heard the promise of hope and new life as hooks to hold onto.
As I was preparing to return to church, I found a new notebook for my daily tracking of meetings, visits and notes. On it, it says, “My grace is all you need” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (from Winners of all places). I love that. Because God’s grace is what has been my biggest learning from the past year. Grace to find the joy in the difficult. Grace to connect in deeper ways online. Grace to value what and who we have. Grace to know that this is just a season in time. Grace to once again come back to the church that has supported and loved my family so well.
I have missed you, and I’d love to reconnect. If you want to grab coffee, go for a walk in the park, have a social distanced porch visit, I’m more than happy to come your way. Please call or text (my number has remained the same) or send a quick email to [email protected]. Hello faith family, it’s so good to see you.