Monday, January 11, 2021

January 10 Sermon and Announcements

 We did not have services on January 3. We are pleased that we were able to have worship again yesterday, January 10. 

GOODBYE 2020, WELCOME 2021!

Philippians 3:1-16

 

Another Christmas has come and gone. Praying the Lord brought you some good memories and blessings this holiday season. That being said, there is much to reflect on about the year 2020. As is the case, each of us has different memories and thoughts about the year that has just ended. Clearly this year had elements to it unlike any other year whether you are a young person or someone who has already been blessed with many years on this earth. We experienced things this year unlike any other year. 2020 started like most had in January. We had some snow off and on last year but if anything, we began the year as a nation in a pretty good place. Unemployment across all ages and races was at all-time lows. Most of us were simply dealing with the normal things that we always do. Here at the Cerro Gordo Church of the Brethren, you were dealing with what to do after Tim and Betty Sue returned to Pennsylvania. The Cerro Gordo High School and Jr. High was still getting settled into their new and improved buildings. We were dealing with our own personal ups and downs, just like always. January pretty much came and went as usual.

 

Then February arrived and during the course of that month there began to be reports of a potentially dangerous virus that was found in parts of China. It was something health leaders were keeping an eye on, but the belief still was, or maybe the hope was, it would not really affect us.

 

Then came March. At first in February and March flights between the US and China were stopped, other than Americans being allowed to come home. Then not long after that flights from Europe to the United States were stopped. The corona virus was spreading and, in an attempt, to stop it in the America, flights leaving the United States and returning from many regions of the world were stopped.

 

Then it happened. States, especially those with large cities in them, started seeing cases of the corona virus increase, as well as hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the virus. Nationwide limits were imposed during this time. If you recall it was called “15 days to stop the spread”. We obviously know now the 15 days to stop the spread did not. Restrictions were somewhat lifted in some states while other states began taking restrictions to higher levels. Illinois has been one of those states that imposed more and more restrictions during the spring.  Those of us with loved ones in retirement or nursing facilities, as well as hospitals, were not allowed to see or be with our family members, even for a brief face-to-face visit.

There was clearly legitimate reason for this. It had become clear the oldest and those with health issues were and are the most vulnerable. During all of this, in May a black man died during the course of an arrest that then sparked marches and vandalism all across this country. That continued off and on through much of the summer. Some of the other changes that happened to everyday life during this time was schools quit having students attend across the country for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Movie theatres closed, malls closed, restaurants closed, sporting events were cancelled. In other words, grocery stores and gas stations were about the only businesses allows to remain open during most of the spring. Even doctors and dentists did not see patients for much of the spring in a lot of the states in America. Finally, by summer some of the restrictions were eased. In much of the country, in more limited ways, many businesses were allowed to resume. Health issues of all kinds just did not stop because of the corona virus. Accidents still happened. Shootings, fires. In fact, some things have gotten worse because of this virus. Alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide have all increased during the corona virus, as well as unemployment. In many ways I hate to remind everyone of all of what 2020 represented, at least all the negative aspects.

 

Just to touch on a couple more things that were noteworthy, there was an election that took place in different ways than ever before. We celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day as a nation much differently as well. Not everything was bad despite many of the negative things shared. Families found new ways to keep in touch with one another.  Our church chose to do services on Facebook that helped those unable to attend in person to keep up with their congregation. We saw babies welcomed into this world. There were marriages that took place. Under challenging circumstances, we as the church and we as a nation continue on.

 

We, as God’s people, need to continue to pray this nightmare and tragedy of coronavirus will soon end. There have been and there always will be difficult and challenging times in life. There is a saying that goes something like this. “Tough times do not last, tough people do.” God is calling us to continue to believe. God sees everything that has happened in the past and he sees what is going on today. The curse creation inherited when Adam and Eve ate the fruit they should not have is still in effect and will be until God says enough is enough. Never forget God loves you and knows what you are going through. God’s ultimate goal is for you and me to spend eternity with him. But we first go through the ups and downs this life provides before that day comes. Many of us have said goodbye to loved ones this year as they have gone ahead of to be with the Lord. The verses we read this morning to begin with tells that story. I pray we all humbly agree with what Paul was saying to the church in Philippi.

 

To close this morning, I hope each one of us takes to heart what Paul said in verses 13 and 14. As we leave behind 2020 and begin 2021, I pray we hold fast to these words and this message. “But one thing I do—Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

 

Happy New Year to each of you. God has great things in store for us. Just grab hold and believe. God loves you! Embrace the moment.

 

Announcements

Sundays: Sunday School 9:00; Worship 10: Please social distance and wear masks. We continue carrying our worship on facebook live. We are grateful that it reaches many people in and beyond our congregation.

January 13 New and old board members meet. Executive Committee 6:15; commissions 7:00; board 7:30

Donation Box: Utilities

 

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

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Thank you to all who helped with the candy sales! It was very successful! At last count, we brought in $1138. A special thanks goes out to Robin Shively for all his help with the purchase of candy supplies!

 

Offering envelopes are by the copier if you would like a box for the year.

 

It is time for Messenger renewals or new subscriptions. Messenger is our denominational magazine and helps us keep up with what is going on across our country and the world in the Church of the Brethren. Included are also Bible studies and other thoughtful articles. If you do not currently subscribe and would like to, let Carol know by the end of January. If you currently subscribe, you need to do nothing to continue. The cost is $14.50 annually for 10 issues. This goes through the church, so your subscription money needs to be given to the church.

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link)

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Carol & Mike Seidenstricker; Brittany Wright; Sonna Hall; Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Arnold & Marlene Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liam Martina; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 340,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; all who are ill with the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of the wildfires and hurricanes; District of IL/WI; nursing home residents

 Families of Barb Baker, Jeff Sawyer, and Lonnie Miller

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

Several Nigerian EYN (Church of the Brethren Nigeria) church buildings have been burned over the Christmas holidays, 12 people killed, and others kidnapped. Some of these church buildings had been rebuilt as recently as 3 years ago. Pray for the Nigerian people as they deal with these tragedies.


Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.