by: Brent Wood
1. That we have homes to live in. Sure they may be drafty and creaky and may need some updating, at the same time they keep us safe and dry. In a year where we have had to spend so much time at home, let's celebrate the homes we had!
2. Technology. We all feel disconnected from friends, family and fellow church members, but think how much worse it would be without Zoom and facetime and YouTube. No, it's not the same as being in the same room, but I'm so glad we have these tools available to us.
3. More time. For most of us we've had more time this past year. We've not had to deal with the frenetic pace that so often described our lives previously. We could even get a little more sleep since we didn't have to make the big commute each morning and evening.
4. The joy of outdoors. God made us to live in a garden, so I think getting outside is refreshment for the soul. When there was no place to go but the park, we found out that the park was a great place to go!
5. Hanging with family. I'm sure that from time to time we all got on each other's nerves, but we've had more opportunity to just hang - eating dinner together, putting together puzzles, playing games, etc. While the school deal has been hard, I think many of our kids will remember the family moments of this year with fondness.
6. We never ran out of toilet paper. It was a little dicey there for a while, but we made it. Whew!
7. Our church family. In a time where feeling connected was such a struggle, I'm glad that our church has offered connection points. Whether special events that we have hosted online, live streaming services, or even gathering masked and spread out, we've stayed strong as a church!
8. Freedom. I'm especially grateful how our state has been supportive of churches and has provided a lot of leeway in how, when and where we worship in this pandemic. We've tried to be thoughtful and responsible and not abuse the opportunities we have been given.
9. Health - at least for most of us. I think by now most of us know someone or know of someone who was taken by COVID, but still most of us have been spared. Even some in our congregation who contracted the virus seemed to experience mild symptoms. (At the same time we grieve for and with those who have experienced the loss of loved ones.)
10. Small kindnesses. We have seen a lot of good will and people reaching out to help other people. Grocery runs. Checking on neighbors. Going to the extra mile to help strangers. In many ways we have seen increased kindness.
11. We have grown. Facing new situations often causes discomfort, but it also encourages growth. We simply haven't been able to maintain the status quo. And that's a good thing. We've been forced to take new paths and learn new processes, and we are the better for it. (I'm especially excited about how so many older people have braved using technology.)
12. The hope of a vaccine. While I realize that we have a long way to go in getting COVID under control, I'm grateful that so much progress has been made in the medical research world. Many thanks for those who have worked so hard.
13. High-risk workers. Everyone is an essential worker, but some have worked in jobs where they have faced higher risks than the rest of us. Medical people come to mind, but I'm thinking of even the store employees who have gone to work everyday to make sure we had food - and so many others.
14. Drive-bys. We've missed weddings and reunions, graduations and birthday parties - yet we have still found ways to celebrate the good things in life. And who would have ever thought that a car horn could be used so positively, rather than to express annoyance?
15. Pandemic pets. I've never been able to figure out any big use for a cat, or even for a dog - other than to bring us warmth, affection, entertainment and love. Many of us used the pandemic as a great opportunity to add a family member. So here's to Rosie and Spud - and to any of your new family members.
16. New words and phrases. The pandemic has introduced many new words to our vocabularies. Some of them are technical or medical, some of them are just fun (you can check them out later in the email).
17. The promises of God. While I wish 2020 would have been more of a spiritual wake up call to our world than it has been, it has nevertheless allowed us to examine our faith, encouraged us to commit to new spiritual practices, and reminded us to hang on to God when everything goes awry.
18. A renewed focus on justice and equality. Most of us don't have to deal with inequities in life very often, but this year we have been reminded that is not true for many people. Racism has had a devastating effect our on history and our society, and several unfortunate tragedies this year have reminded us that we need to do our part to promote the dignity of all men.
19. We survived the election season. Barely. It wasn't pretty, but it's over. (And regardless of your political leanings, can I remind you that we are called to be peace-makers?)
20. It's only going to be 366 days long. (Isn't it so 2020 that we actually have an extra day this year?) Several years ago one of my kids was dealing with a situation where she was stuck and I remember saying to her, "Really, a year is not that long. You can do what have to do for a year." And that is true. I realize the pandemic and its fallout may stretch on, but at the same time we can keep perspective.
So yes, it has been a difficult year, but yes, it has been a good year, too, in so many ways.