“Then they came to Elim,
where there were twelve springs and
seventy palm trees, and
they camped there near the water.”
Dear Forward Moving Faithful:
I have heard the questions. “When are we going to be back?” “When do we go back to what we are used to?” “When do we return to normal?” My simple answer, we are moving forward not going back. The fact is that no matter what we are going through we are still living and being church. And as the living Church of God, we follow our Lord fully confident that God will provide a way for us even in the times of uncertainty. We are called on to follow, not ever going back, but always faithfully forward into the new ways yet to be revealed.
This is true for us just as much as it was for the Hebrew people as they left Egypt over three thousand years ago. Egypt was the bread basket of the ancient world. Fruits and grains grew plentiful along the fertile banks of the Nile River. This is why Joseph, the vizier to Pharaoh, first provided homes and lands for his extended family to come and stay in the land of goodness. But of course, over the next four hundred years they had lost their elite status. In fact, they had become foreign slaves to their Egyptian taskmasters, suffering under the pain of the lash and the heat of the sun. Yet even after walking through the Red Sea into freedom, when they face their first trials of suffering, they ask the question, “why can’t we just go back?” They grumbled and complained, wishing that it would just be like it had been, that they could go back to the way it was. They actually would rather go back to being slaves in Egypt, than face the new realities of freedom in the wilderness. So, after Moses appeals to God for help, he is given a decree to tell them to “listen carefully to the Lord and do what is right in his eyes” and he will protect and provide for them. As they learn to listen and trust, they move forward, not back. And God provides for them shelter, water and abundance in the wilderness. God provided a way forward.
We continue to move forward, doing ministry in new ways seeking to follow where God would lead us. What this new form of ministry may be as we begin to re-open from the pandemic, we do not fully know yet, but we know with God we will still be the Church. In fact, the St. Mark council has already been praying and discussing what changes may be needed to meet and worship safely as the people of God. But whatever that form will be, we know it will not be the same as it was. We are not going back, but moving forward, trusting in the Lord. We move forward as the Church of God, knowing that He will provide.
In the peace and grace of God,
Pastor Kirk Griffin