Dear Church Family and Friends,
I’m starting to feel like the fog is lifting, and I am seeing bright glimmers of light. For so long I’ve felt as though we were all walking blindly through this dense COVID fog. When we first went on lockdown, I didn’t think the isolation and social distancing would last as long as it has. But as the weeks turned to months and then the year mark passed, I began to feel this heaviness deep in my soul. I cried like the ancient prophets and psalmists, “How long, O Lord? When will this eternal fog lift?”
Then came the month of October. October brought with it some great moments of light breaking through the fog. Not only did we worship together in-person as we have been for a few months, but we found ways to gather in-person for fellowship. Who knew Kickball, our Garden Re-dedication, and Trick or Treating on the lawn could be balm for our weary souls??!! And yet, they were just the balm so many of us needed. You can see pictures of all the fun at the end of this email.
The truth is that life has always been a rhythm of separation and togetherness, of exile and return. We may prefer the “return” bit, the “bring you back to this place” bit, but that doesn’t mean separation isn’t part of the story. Experiences of separation are at least as old as the ancient stories of the Garden of Eden, the Israelites’ exile in Babylon, and the parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus and his followers were separated by betrayal and death … and then they were reunited by forgiveness and newness of life. Even on our most “normal” days, our lives are a rhythm of gathering and dispersing, coming together and going apart, calls to worship and benedictions.
The past 19 months have been another profound experience of this ancient pattern. As challenging as it’s been, we can take solace in the knowledge that our ancestors, too, experienced seasons of exile. And here’s the good news: thanks to this history, over time our faith — and our church — has been built to help us live through such seasons with grace and hope. At our core, Avondale United Methodist Church is a community of reunion, homecoming, and return. Now more than ever, in a world full of exile, our congregation stands as a beacon of hope, welcome, and radical hospitality.
With all of this in mind, I invite you to give thanks for all the resources — spiritual, theological, physical, and financial — that support this indispensable work. I find that the more time I spend practicing gratitude, the less overwhelming the world seems to be. As we look ahead to 2022, I am envisioning “a future filled with hope” just like the prophet Jeremiah envisioned (Jeremiah 29:10-14). I invite you to prayerfully consider what you might be able to give in the coming year for the work of God through our church. You can click here to make your 2022 pledge online. Then on Sunday, November 21, we’ll celebrate in worship the pledges and gifts we’ve received as we look with hope toward the future. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for Avondale!
Rev. Malinda Weaver