Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’
– Joshua 4:20-22
Milestones mark time and place. They remind us of what has gone before, where we have been, and ideally can help us remember God’s faithfulness in those times. Crossing over the Jordan River the Israelites erected stones to be a reminder, to let their children know, God delivered them again.
This February in NT-NL and on our territory we will experience two very recent milestones. The first is that this February will be the 24th consecutive month that our lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. For 2 full years you as leaders have had to make difficult, often controversial decisions with uneven guidance. In the United States we are approaching 900,000 lives that have been lost (almost 40,000 a month) to known cases of this virus. Beyond this loss of life we have also experienced losses of income, education, relationships, and much more. Our assumptions and our relationships have been changed.
The second is one year since the devastating winter storm of 2021. A storm that crippled infrastructure, exposing systemic weaknesses in services we take for granted, and caused significant damage to homes, churches, and our Briarwood campus. Repairs, insurance claims, and construction delays have been a part of these last 12 months. Even now they are only just being completed or yet haven’t.
Yet despite these losses our communities have endured, you as leaders have done remarkable work learning, adapting and growing. We have lived into an online world of church and now face a hybrid church future with new skills intact. We still have losses to come. Just yesterday we learned the 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering has been cancelled. But we focus on the future. At Briarwood, staff has worked hard rebuilding facilities, hosting small groups and looking forward to what could be this summer. For that to happen they are asking for information from you and your community regarding demand for camp so decisions can be made on numerical data. With the loss of the youth gathering, a synod wide or tri-synod event might be possible. We look forward to our 2022 Assembly. Gathering together again for the first time in 3 years.
Milestones are important, they mark our days. We have lived through challenging days. God’s people always have. Together we can continue to face the reality, the law, and respond in hope with the gospel promise that God who has been will continue to be faithful.
In Mission Together: