A Message from Ed
November 25, 2020
November 25, 2020
Dear Forest Lake family,
Rafael Nadal, winner of this year’s French Open and winner of twenty Grand Slam titles, is one of many athletes with a specific ritual before a match or game. Tennis, a sport long known for its traditions on the court, now competes with baseball as the sport with the most unique rituals off the playing surface. In Nadal’s case, he “takes a cold shower before every match and then sets two water bottles, one cold and one at room temperature in front and left of his chair on the court, making sure that the labels face the same direction, and drinks from them in a precise order during the match.” Nadal is one of the most decorated tennis players ever, so why change this unique habit?
Thanksgiving in 2020 is forcing us to look at our own rituals and traditions. Previously planned large gatherings may not ultimately be as large, many relatives will be “seen” on Zoom, some stores will not be open on Thanksgiving night, and the Gamecocks and Tigers are not playing on Saturday. By necessity, old habits are being broken this year.
As Ellen mentioned on Sunday, Advent is the start of the new Christian year. Advent gives us the chance to start fresh as we await God coming into our world and moving into the neighborhood. This new start is an opportunity for reflection on our spiritual and physical lives: What needs to be changed? What should continue? Where and how can I be the blessing I am called into being now and in the future?
Psalm 13, a psalm that grips you immediately in the first few verse (“How long, O Lord, Will you forget me forever”) pivots the other direction near the end. The psalmist concludes with the following: “But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because the Lord has dealt bountifully with me.”
We’ve been provided our own chance to have a turning point, an opportunity to pivot in a direction that points to the love of God, the God whose steadfast ritual of demonstrating faithfulness, love, and mercy has outlasted all established practices and traditions by mankind.
This year’s Advent theme will focus on the many ways the FLPC family supports missions locally and globally. We have the chance to hear about and see how we can put God’s love in action, providing hope to those around the world who need to feel God’s presence. We have the chance to continue to grow our heads, hearts, and hands in the service of Jesus Christ. We have the chance to be still, clear our minds, and be the change so desperately needed, even as the world around us seems to change in the other direction.
See you soon,
Juan M. Floyd-Thomas, Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, and Mark Toulouse. The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular Culture. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, 149.