From The Pastor’s Desk

 

Pastor Jen Hoffman            Email: pastorjenhoffman@sslcwausau.com

As we move into the year 2021, I can actually hear us all breathing a giant sigh of
relief. There is always an expectation that January 1 presents us with a clean slate
and 365 new days to fill with our hopes and dreams. But it isn’t long before we
realize that a new year hasn’t erased past hurts, losses, failures, and all that we wish
we could leave behind in 2020. The pandemic won’t magically have disappeared,
our loved ones that have died won’t suddenly appear and fill the spaces they always
occupied, and the world won’t revert back automatically to the way it was at the
beginning of last year when things were the “normal” with which we were familiar. But this is not cause
for despair. All of the happenings of 2020 have come together to form one more piece of the unique
makeup that is us, and we are beautiful…just as Christ with all his wounds and hurts rising from the
dead is beautiful. And we give things with this new year that every single day IS a new day for us.
The life we have in Jesus, poured out for us through his blood and washed over us in the waters of our
baptism gives us that clean slate every single day and reminds us of just how loved we are. We are
defined not by what has happened to us, but by who Jesus makes us. And with that, all that happens to
us is framed by that love and that identity, too. So if we have experienced unbearable loss, we have
done so as a child of God who knows Christ’s presence every moment tending to our wounds and
holding us up when we fear we will fall. When we feel we are at our wits end, our patience shot, we are
surrounded by a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who breathe patience for us and keep us
grounded in the things of God that really matter. And when we feel alone, we receive a card, a letter,
a phone call, an awe-inspiring moment in nature that shows us just how active the Holy Spirit is in
keeping us connected to each other and to God.

Psalm 126 speaks very much to the hope we have for a “harvest of joy” in 2021 and the rejoicing in
which we long to participate. It reads:

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was
filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord
has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Restore our
fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negev. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts
of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of
joy, carrying their sheaves.”

Many of us carry deep wounds from this past year. Together, we raise our voices to our Lord and ask
him to bring healing where needed, strength and peace in abundance, and always love for us and for
one another. Together, we will rejoice. Together we can rejoice, even now. So take heart, brothers
and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit continues its work, and we have been equipped to continue God’s
ministry of love and reconciliation in the world.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Jen