For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;  a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing  
(Ecclesiastes, 3:1-9)

These are just a few of the points that the writer of Ecclesiastes makes in verses 3:1-9. How appropriate they are as we reflect on 2020. It has been a year like none of us have ever experienced before… nor ever want to again! Families and friends separated physically…Job losses… Churches and schools shutdown… So many in our community are suffering loss or illness from COVID-19.

2020 – What can be said that hasn’t been already? Life as we knew it came to a grinding halt in mid-March. As faces were covered with masks, hearts were covered with fear, anger, frustration, discouragement, and depression. Yet in the midst of all this tragedy, there have been glimmers of hope and grace shining through. Technology has allowed families to stay connected, businesses to run safely, and church communities to continue to worship together. Personally, I’ve communicated more with some of my distant cousins in the past 9 months than I have in years! And St. Matthew’s has learned how to worship online (I feel like a televangelist – my worst fear!) Yet in the midst of our fears and tragedies, God has provided opportunities for goodness, grace and love to shine into homes and hearts. Here at St. Matthew’s many of our social outreach ministries have grown to levels greater than before the shutdown.  

One lesson I have learned from this COVID experience is that I took the many blessings of life for granted. But now hope is on the horizon with several vaccines rolling out as I write these words. What a blessing 2021 will be for us. It will be like a re-birth… like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. What joy and celebration there will be… with the hope of being with each other in person once again! As we begin to emerge from a year of isolation and distancing, I pray that we not continue to take the many blessings of life, family, friends and faith for granted. That we live in the joy of each and every moment.

The writer of Ecclesiastes continues the above text: I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end, I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. (Ecclesiastes, 3:10-12)

My prayer for us is that this year has helped us realize the truly important gifts and blessings of life – and that we live them with the joy and faith that God intends for us each and every day that we are blessed with life.

May you and your family be blessed with joy, hope, peace and love in 2021,
✠ Pastor Scott Zimmerer