Friends, our calendars tell us that we have entered into a New year, 2021. But for most of us, it will look a lot like the old year, and if some are right, January will be worst than December. The COVID pandemic will continue to rage on; more people will become sick, more people will die from the virus.
But we also know that hope is in the air. The government has rolled out vaccines that will help control the virus. Yet we still all need to participate in taking care of each other: we need continue for a little while longer to wear our masks, wash our hands, practice social distancing, and not gather in groups. Since this is where we are, there are no current plans to begin in-person worship for January. BUT, there is hope that as we enter into the Lent Season in mid-February, we can resume in-person worship in a limited manner once again.
I want to take the opportunity to tell you what I am thinking and what I see ahead for us. First, of primary importance to me is to open up more conversations with you as we get into the year. At first, these conversations will be most likely be by phone, email, or even Zoom. Once the COVID cases begin to decrease and the infection rates lower, we can consider in-person informal meetings. What I want to talk about is "What God is doing within Reliance and Ridings Chapel", along with "What God is doing in Frederick and Warren County."
Another meaningful conversation I want to have with you is about the legacy of Reliance and Ridings Chapel. You are a congregation that is in decline and this has been so for several years. You are a congregation without three important generations children, youth, and middle-aged families. Yet, you can play a positive role in building a legacy for these groups who will become the future church. The truth is that you can play a huge role in being part of what God will do in Fredrick and Warren County as these generations are formed and become witnesses to God's presence in this particular place and in their particular time. I believe this is the most important conversation we can have today and for this year.
To start the conversation, I want to offer you a prayer for you to use daily for this year. It is a prayer that has been attributed to John Wesley, and I think it will prepare our minds for the conversations ahead.
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will,
place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you.
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen