Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

December 9, 2020

December 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Henry David Thoreau is reported to have said, “It is not what we look at that is important, but what we see.”  And if that was ever true, it has been true of 2020.  But it is also a profound call to those of us who see life through the lens of a belief in God.  Because we believe in the God we see fully revealed in Jesus Christ we are not without hope, not crushed, not in despair.  We are ADVENT people.  That means that we believe that God will come.

John Hudgens came into my office the other day and shared a quote that was running through his head (he couldn’t remember where it came from, but it is worth sharing anyway!).  He said, “In the end everything’s going to be all right.  And if it’s not all right then it’s not the end.”  This is a contemporary and colloquial way of saying again what the 14th Century Roman Catholic Mystic, Julian of Norwich, wrote when she was asking God in prayer why there should be so much sin in the world and in her.  She reported that God let he know that while sin was necessary, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

When we look at the year, things are very hard.  But when we SEE what God sees we also see much for which we can be grateful.  I see and am so very grateful for the wonderful and faithful service that Andrea Paschal gave to our congregation for twelve years.  I am grateful that she has found the next step in her own ministry journey at First Presbyterian Church of Aiken, SC.  I see and am grateful that we have the kind of staff that jumps in, when a staff person leaves, and picks up the tasks that need to be done and does them with creativity, passion and love.  Even without Andrea’s steady hand, we have had a creative and energetic Advent.  What I can see is livestreamed worship that is finally (and normally) stable and that every week we have well over 200 views from people all over the US and even from other countries.  And I know that many screens or “views” represents multiple people.  So, I see that we are reaching out as a church to the whole world.  I see that our Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was viewed by 267 “screens:  Facebook – 133 views, YouTube 41 views, Vimeo – 93 views.  I see 851 PB&J sandwiches made by this congregation to feed the hungry in Columbia at our Sandwich blitz.  And I see thoughtful and wonderful devotions written by this congregation and our global mission partners sent out every single day.  I see all of you doing the best you can under the circumstances to reach out to those who are alone and grieving, giving to those in need, providing Christmas presents for children who would otherwise not have any presents to open on Christmas morning.  There are so many wonderful things that we can see.

When we gather for worship on December 17th for the Longest Night Service we will be looking at grief, suffering, darkness and pain.  And those are real.  But there is something that is even more real that we can seeWe can see the God who loves us, knows us, claims us and redeems us is more real than any darkness and pain.  God is stronger than death.  So, we can now see light in the darkness.  And when we gather for worship on Christmas Eve we can now see that God is not only FOR US, but is also WITH US in the flesh.  When we look through eyes of faith, we can see God at work in our own hearts, in our congregation and even in the world.  Can you see?

Peace,

Ellen

Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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