May the God of steadfastness and encouragement, grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6 New Revised Standard Version

I read this blessing from Paul the other day, and it reminded me how much I have needed our “God of steadfastness and encouragement” this past year! In the piling on of stress, worry, and fears, I have needed a place to hold on to – and I have consistently found God to be there for me. Circumstances of the day do not dictate my faith, because God’s love for me is what I bind myself to in the storms. We are on an extended journey; I hope we can linger in this blessing from Paul.

With the beauty of spring arriving, it feels like long journey with Covid-19 is coming to an end. We wait with eager expectation. It feels to me like I am a kid again in the back seat of my Dad’s 1970’s station wagon on one of our very long road trips –  “Are we there yet?” “How far is it?” “ Is it much longer?” “I need a potty break…” My father’s response, “We are almost there.”

We too are, “almost there.” We are making progress. We are not in the same place we started a year or so ago. We have traveled to a new place, an almost post-pandemic place. It feels like we could fling off the masks and sing with joy in our churches and have that long-awaited potluck – but… we aren’t quite there yet. As my parents would say to me on those long trips, “Patience. Soon. Next exit we will stop for the potty break. We are not there yet.”

For the safety of us all, knowing that many – but not all – have had the privilege of a vaccination, we will gather safely with masks and social distancing. We will figure out singing outdoors, or watch musical recordings indoors, or with masked singers. We will continue livestream or recordings and remember that those who join us in a virtual world are not always able to join us in our physical space. Worship times and ways will change to accommodate the new place we have come to. This may be frustrating, and our patience may wear thin – but God is in the midst of this. God’s love for us is unchangingly steadfast. Let’s hold fast to the promise in this “Almost There” season. Be encouraged, remain steadfast, and be blessed by the God of steadfastness and encouragement!

Stay calm, stay connected, and stay focused on our mission…

Arlington District Superintendent