January 9 Greetings
2021 has already proven that a new year brings with it no guarantees. If you’re like me, you’ve probably had many a New Year’s resolution that you didn’t quite live up too. We can certainly try to use the momentum of a new calendar, a new year and the fact that we made it through the “holidaze” as a means to motivate ourselves. But as we have discovered in the recent ticker tape of national and global news, simply flipping the calendar doesn’t necessarily change us or our world.
When the systems of the world around me begin to disappoint, I find myself drawn to the journey of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Talk about searching and wandering for hope in the midst of despairing human systems and false gods! As we head further into 2021, we really have no idea what the year will hold for us. Some things will change. They always do. Some things will stay the same. They always do. After 2020, we can only hope that what lies ahead will improve over what we left behind. What we can take hold of is our part in making 2021 better. Our thoughts, words and actions contribute to the flow of life’s river around us.
Over the past couple of weeks I have reflected a bit on Joshua. The leadership of the people of Israel was passed on to him by Moses. Joshua was charged with leading the people of Israel across the Jordan River and actually INTO Canaan, the land God had promised to give them when they escaped slavery in Egypt. Although they had been heading toward Canaan for 40 years or so, they really had no idea what waited for them on the other side of the Jordan River.
But look at the way Joshua prepared himself and the people of Israel to cross over the Jordan. I’m thinking about the first three chapters specifically:

Joshua took some time to listen to his God, who reminded him of what had happened: Moses had died, and it was his turn to lead; what was expected of him: courageously lead the people and continue to obey God’s commands; and what God would do: promise to be with Joshua.
The next part of the story takes me back to my summer camp days. At summer camp we were typically pushed to try new activities; some of those activities were simple. The fact that we were away from home meant we had to manage ourselves: get up on time to shower before breakfast, come to a morning devotion, sign up for things like sports, crafts or serving on the crew that prepared for the evening’s events. And we raised our hands if we were interested in helping give devotions or lead activities like sailing. I found myself trying things away from home that I would have been scared to ask permission to do at home! One summer I found myself learning to sail and excelling so that I became a mentor to other kids in working the small sail boats we had at camp on the small lake in New York.
Joshua gave what I will call “the camp counselors” instructions to tell the people to get ready. Those camp counselors were not prepared themselves, but they had to try new things if they were to grow and help their people. They were instructed to get their stuff together and prepare their hearts and minds to move forward. Joshua lined the people up, with the Ark of the Covenant and the priests in front, and they stepped into the Jordan River and went across. The Ark of the Covenant and the priests represented their God going before them.

Interestingly, God told Joshua three times in the first ten verses of the book to be strong and courageous. It was a COMMAND! I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being courageous on demand. But I believe the main point is this: God didn’t leave Joshua or the people to be courageous on their own. God said, “For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”.
Where does this leave us as we step into 2021? What new things are out there on the horizon? Pastor Tricia mentioned a gardening adventure she’s interested in. There are so many training videos on YouTube that we can take advantage of….that’s my go-to whenever I have to fix the toilet or something around the house now.
How about technology like Zoom and Facetime—have you ventured there yet to be in communication with family and friends? If you’re joining or resuming a Bible study or small group in 2021, utilizing one of these forms of technology is in order. If you are not happy with our local, state or federal leaders, maybe it’s time to take action with letter writing, and educating yourself in how to be involved from your own home with specific issues that tug at your heart.

Most Life Coaches say this: “Identify the next best step and take it.” What’s your next best step? Take that one, then the next one, then the next and pretty soon you’ll be all the way across the Jordan River and in a new place.
In these difficult days, music is a place I go for respite. Here’s a great medley by Pentatonix combining “Don’t Worry Be Happy” with “Winter Wonderland”. I learned of it because Santa brought Lilyan a vinyl record of their Christmas album!
Epiphany brought the Christmas season to an end. To mark this new season, here’s a litany called “The Work of Christmas” composed by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
A Bible Verse for Today:

So they pulled their boats up on shore,
left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:11
Peace in Christ ~
Grief Group on Zoom
Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM (Arizona)

Meeting ID: 819 1690 6135
Passcode: 176867
Emmanuel Lutheran Church

7763 E.Long Look
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314
PH (928) 772-4135 • FX (928) 759-3541
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