Saturday, December 26, 2020

SCRIPTURE READING: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation   produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5: 1-5
Last year in this Devotional, we were all writing about hope. Good thing, considering what was coming. Without both personal faith and a community of faith, without hope, how could we avoid despair?
Last year, as every other year, we experienced despair and hope at the Tenebrae service. When the candle is out, we live in darkness. 
Thanks to God, the light returns: John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
As you well know, anger and intolerance prevail around us. Demonstrations for tolerance are reduced to riots exhibiting violence directed against those who are perceived to question the motives of, or disagree with demonstrators. So we have to wonder what belief system is guiding these people? Whether ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ or ‘the government can’t tell ME what to do’, the behavior is the same: destructive intolerance.
We need to look to the teachings of our Lord and teacher Jesus to find a way to react to our violent society. How do we live as He would tell us? I do ask in prayer, and I listen carefully during the Zoom studies with Pastors Brad Leight and Rev Paul Henry. But all I find for me is so small   compared to what is needed: to greet people kindly, sign appropriate petitions, donate resources generously . When picking up a take-out dinner in Newtown, I watched admiringly so many people, some I know, standing holding signs “Give Peace a Chance”, “Fund the USPS”, “Try Tolerance, You’ll Like It” and many other messages, while smiling and waving at all the traffic on State Street. That seems a good way to send a message of hope.
In the scripture above, the apostle Paul says tribulation, of which we have plenty, leads to perseverance, so we cannot give up trying to help other people and ourselves through this time of pandemic and fear. Perseverance builds our character, making us strong when we feel isolated and weak. Character strengthens hope.   
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask You for wisdom and strength as we endure the sickness, poverty, loneliness and fear now spreading to all the places in this your beautiful world. We thank you for the beauty of nature that surrounds us, for the brave loving souls who sacrifice so much to care for those who are suffering. Help us all gain in understanding and sympathy. We thank you for    sending Your Son into this world of hope, beauty, suffering and despair to teach us love and forgiveness. Amen

Betty Witschard
St. John's Ivyland
820 Almshouse Road
Ivyland, PA 18974
Rev. Brad Leight, Pastor