This is part one of a two part post featuring words of encouragement during times of uncertainty; for 2020, this message is meant to support you during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year 2020 will be one for the record books, and one that many will be glad to see in the rearview mirror. A year that started with such excitement and hope, quickly turned to a year of struggle, anxiety, sadness and fear. In times such as these, many find themselves asking “where is God in all of this”?
By enlisting the help of our local faith community, DavieLiFE felt strongly that we could share messages of hope and remind us all, that even during times of uncertainty, God is here. As we move through the holiday season, there is no doubt this year will be different for moste veryone. However, opportunities abound for us to grow closer in our faith, or perhaps discover faith that can provide comfort. Many of our local churches have stepped up their efforts to meet people in their circumstances by building online worship services, while
others have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus by meeting the needs of community members who need help. Regardless of where you are, there is a place for you to find hope, healing and encouragement here in Davie County.
Throughout this issue, we hope you will enjoy the words that several of our local churches have contributed, and feel confident that although we may not understand or know the timing, God will use this situation for our good and His glory. In addition to reading their Words of Hope messages, take a moment to learn more about these churches from the information included in their outreach advertisements and see how a church in your own backyard wants to welcome you with open arms.
Tori Elliott-Gingerich, Worship Director at Hillsdale Church
It was my knowledge of this very scripture that allowed me to win the coveted prize of a Blow Pop during children’s church one Sunday morning. When asked to name the shortest verse in the Bible, my 7 year old hand was the only to shoot up, prepped by my tedious Christian school background. As a child, my understanding of “Jesus wept” was nothing more than the answer to a Bible trivia question. In this year, however, I’ve found these two words to sustain and deepen my relationship with Christ. I would dare suggest that these two words might just be the richest written in the Gospels. In John chapter 11, we witness the death of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. Many were gathered at the tomb, mourning the loss of their friend and questioning why Jesus hadn’t intervened and healed Lazarus before he passed. Even still, He joined them at the tomb. Only Jesus knew the resurrection en route; Lazarus would live again. Before performing any miracle, Jesus wept with those in mourning. He was moved by their grief. All the while, He knew that by His hand, Lazarus would live again. Jesus wept, even while holding the knowledge of a greater outcome. Jesus had empathy for the broken.Have you ever felt that God was too lofty to be concerned by your medial heartache? Have you ever assumed that He might be irked by your grief, impatient with your inability to see the bigger picture? I’ve spoken with many who have been quick to write off their own pain, saying, “I know God just wants me to be grateful.” While I agree with the importance of gratitude, I also recognize that Christ’s ability to empathize and meet us in our humanity is one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given. 2020 has been abundant in grief and it is easy to feel defeated by the happenings of this past year. But what if the heartache is an opportunity for us to be met by Jesus? To experience a Christ who sits with us in our pain. He, who knows the greater outcome but still carries us with empathy. You will never be written off by God in the midst of your grief. You are never alone in heartache. May you be filled with the assurance that even in your darkest moments, Jesus weeps with you. May His kindness, comfort and understanding carry you into healing.
Rev. Darren L. Crotts, Pastor at The Bridge @ 197 Main Cooleemee
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. The Bridge @ 197 Main Cooleemee is here to share the peace of Jesus Christ! It may be as powerful as saying a bold prayer, or as simple as sharing a meal or a cup of coffee. We want everyone who visits to know they belong, and have a place of worship and prayer always open to them. The Bridge @ 197 Main Cooleemee is a “A Place to Belong and A Place to Matter.” Formerly Cooleemee United Methodist Church, this space is now home to our Thursday Night Free Community Meal at 6 p.m. As we step out with God to bridge relationships within Cooleemee, it is our mission to live out one of the greatest commandments Jesus Christ gave us, “to love your neighbor the same as you love yourself”. Every week we show up to love our Cooleemee neighbors. It is a time of blessing, service and individual prayer. The journey of The Bridge is completely dependent on prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and wisdom. In addition to our sanctuary, we will soon have a fully equipped internet café. Perfect for school work or a place to get a really good Wi-Fi signal. Our prayer room will also offer a quiet space to spend time in the Bible, and in relationship with the living Lord. We invite you to join us for worship service, or join us at one of our scheduled prayer drives and walks around each block in Cooleemee. We are radically praying for this community and are expecting God to move in mighty ways. We are also expecting many disciples to rise up and follow Jesus everyday by putting God’s word into action. We are so excited about The Bridge @ 197 Main Cooleemee. Please come join us for a free meal on Thursdays and check out our other events on Facebook.
Lou Ann Wilson, Director of Music at First United Methodist Church Mocksville
Psalm 13:6 states, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt bountifully with me”. This scripture is on the wall of our choir room at First Methodist and the reason that singing is so important to me. Simply put, I am blessed. Does that mean that my life has been easy? No,
not at all. I have had many challenging seasons, as we all have. But I have been able to get through the challenges with prayer, faith, and a God that has always been there. There are times when I have felt that it just could not get any harder. Right now, this year of 2020, has certainly been one of those times. I have always found my joy in music, specifically singing. Unfortunately, the activity I love most is one of the more dangerous activities for spreading Covid-19. I had to find a way to replace that joyous “goose-bump” feeling I got every Sunday, as we all sang together our beloved traditional hymns. Where was I to find my joy? I had to change my focus from the joy of making music
with wonderful voices around me to the beautiful songs themselves. I have found that focusing on the poetry of beloved hymns has brought new meaning to the music and a new joy to my life. The words have always been vitally important, but they have come to the forefront as the harmony and group dynamics have taken a back seat. There are many beautiful examples I could use, but I will share two from hymns of the Christmas Season. Christina Rosetti writes, “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter long ago”. But if you continue to read, or sing, you find encouragement that no matter how harsh your winter may be, our God cannot be held back. “Heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain…”
The words continue to reassure us that no matter the harshness of our situation, God will be with us. Another beautiful example is “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light”, which encourages us to not be afraid like the shepherds, but know, as the angels said, this Child, Jesus,
will be our confidence and joy. The second stanza describes the wondrous night of joy, as Christ came as our brother, not to destroy, but to encourage us to love each other. How can we not try to do just that, and in doing so, find joy? Where will you find your joy? Look deeper into what you love, and know that even the smallest acts can honor this beautiful season and help you find your joy. Keep singing, keep moving forward, and keep doing what you love. Joy to the World!
Phillip Brande, Pastor at Farmington Baptist Church
These are crazy, wearisome times we are living in. Hope seems nonexistent. And, for some it is a struggle to get through a given day. So what do you write to give people a sense of hope? Something they can anchor into when they feel like the world is caving in around them? I am sure that you have already read many things in this edition that cover an array of topics that have helped you and encouraged you. For me though, I have prayed and racked my brain on what to write for weeks, and just this morning, it hit me. It’s a truth that was put to song about 30 years ago by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is a song I sing to myself when I am weary and worn. Here are the words…
“His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect,
His strength is perfect
We can only know
The power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength in us begins
Where ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again
His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect,
His strength is perfect.”
So, when you feel like you just cant make it through the next moment, lean into the arms of Jesus and He will carry you through. He will give you His strength to continue. A strength that never weakens regardless of the circumstances at hand.
Josh Greene, Pastor at Green Meadows Baptist Church
The prophet Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in the aftermath of the most traumatic event of his life, a bitter experience that led him to write, “I have forgotten what happiness is…” He was seemingly caught in a neverending nightmare with no escape, until he remembered that the circumstances surrounding him did not define his identity or determine his future. He wrote in Lamentations 3:21-24, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Jeremiah was filled with hope when he remembered the love of God. Scripture speaks often of God’s love for us, and His love is more than just empty words on paper. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in
that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” At Christmas, we think of the heartwarming scene of the birth of Jesus, but it’s easy to overlook that the cross looms over the birth of Christ and every day of his life. Jesus was born to die for our sins, to change the verdict against us and to transform us from sinners hostile towards God into sons and daughters and citizens of heaven. Jesus is the gift of God that proves forever His love for us. During our lives, God does not alter the consequences of sin or the challenges of living in a fallen world- many of which we have been experiencing this year! God does give us HOPE for tomorrow and for eternity through faith in Jesus Christ. When your faith is in Jesus, you rest securely in the love of God with peace and joy that are unassailable! The circumstances around you may change every day for better or for worse, but the unchanging foundation that you build your life on is the faithfulness of God- His love never ceases and His mercies never end. When the angel appeared to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth, he said, “Fear not!” And that is still the message of God to us today. Fear not! Look to Jesus, look to the cross, and comprehend the love of God that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all of His fullness. May God bless you with the gifts of grace and faith.
You can read more words of encouragement during times of uncertainty from local Davie County churches
in the December 2020 issue of DavieLiFE Magazine.