May 22, 2020

Dear faith community and friends:

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” This week, others have told us to wait as well. I wish I knew if this was a “Wait” like when the resurrected Jesus sent word to the disciples in Matthew 28:10, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Or is this more of a “wait” as remembered in Exodus 16:34, “The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan”(NRSV).

It is one thing to wait someplace like the disciples did in the upper room, with the doors locked, for a few days. Jesus has said he would meet them there but had not given them a specific time frame. The disciples locked themselves away and waited. It is another type of waiting when you discover that the waiting is not likely to end anytime soon. God provided for the Israelites; manna, quail, and water. God, through Moses, showed them a way to live into the forty years of waiting. In both cases, and many other times of waiting, God was with those who had to wait. Long or short, God is with us.

I, like you, wish that this wait was over. It is not!! Then when? Some people act as if the threat is over. Nothing yet will provide a cure or prevent infection. As we reduce precautionary measures, we are saying this may be around awhile. What are we willing to live with while we wait? If we venture out of our locked and secured upper room, we risk loss of life or hurting those we love. Come, Lord Jesus, tell us what to do while we wait.

You have done a great job living into both biblical responses. You have been faithful in waiting. You have addressed the immediate need protecting and loving others sacrificially by giving freely of yourself. You have also reached out to others and risked by moving forward doing kingdom work by continuing the ministries of the church. The decision of the WUMC foundation to purchase equipment that allowed us to immediately continue worship also invited many others that we did not know before we entered this wilderness. This ministry will continue with us over the long journey as well as addressing the immediate need. The foundation later made the decision to purchase the mortgage on the parsonage. Another decision of immediate need and long-term sustenance.

I believe we must continue to address the short-term question while keeping the long journey in mind. The staff continues to pray, study and discern a re-emerging plan for our faith community and will present a plan to the Leadership Council at their meeting June 2, 2020. It does include “hope for” dates realizing that those dates could change. They have worked very hard to consider those who find themselves waiting in the upper room as well as those wandering in the desert hungry for food, water and manna. It is by no means perfect, nor does anyone expect the Leadership Council to make it perfect. Like both biblical examples, it is unfolding before our very eyes. And, like God’s people before, we all move forward obediently while we wait.

God’s peace, Jim

Senior Pastor Jim McClain