LETTER FROM PASTOR KAREN

MIDWEEK MESSAGE FOR JULY 29, 2020:
Dear Friendship and Heath Memorial UMC Families,
What a long journey we have been on these last few months. When we set out mid-March we assumed this would be
a relatively short journey. Time went by and then we set our hopes on July. Now, we are like small children trapped in
the car with our family waiting to reach our destination. During one of the times I was appointed in Spartanburg I was
listening to my favorite morning radio show. Yes, this was definitely before satellite radio. A skit came on where a
mother was driving with her small children. You immediately heard, “Are we there yet? I have to go to the bathroom.
When are we going to get there?” After a few minutes of this the mother, in total exasperation (you can see her turning
around and looking in the backseat can’t you) says, “You know what, when I was your age we never got there, and we
were glad!” Our “getting there” is when we will start back to in-person worship. I am in no means saying we won’t get
there, or, that we will be glad for that. I am saying I feel your sense of loss, your desire and your impatience for getting
there. I also feel the need to protect you and be cautious as this, record breaking number of cases, month of July draws
to a close. There are so many factors that have to be taken into consideration before “getting there.” But, first and
foremost, is letting God guide the journey.
(Luke 24:13-19, 28-32)
Any journey begins with a road. For the two disciples that day it was the Emmaus Road. This was not any ordinary
road and these were not ordinary times. At this point in time the Emmaus Road was one of fatigue, grief, depression,
failure, endings and beginnings. The road we are walking, journeying on, today is similar. We are tired of this road, we
are depressed by this Covid 19 road and the sacrifices we have been forced to make. We are angry with the failure of
the government and the medical community to fix things, and we are worried about what feels like an ending to life and
the church as we know it. We are worried about what type of beginning lies ahead of us. Along with the disciples we
must keep walking this road and somehow, someway, complete this journey. Like most journeys it helps to be prepared
for it. I seriously doubt the disciples were well prepared for that journey. They had no idea what, who, they would be
encountering that day. In most instances neither do we because for the most part we had hoped we would never
actually walk this type of road. We pack carefully for most journeys such as vacations, short trips . . . but what about for:
• faith – do we pack God’s word, prayer, hope, commitment
• Coronavirus – toilet paper and hand sanitizer? Patience, endurance, compassion, gratitude for what you have
Often we not only fail to prepare for the journey, we fail to pick the right traveling companions. Would the two
disciples have invited more disciples, or, somebody else if they had known what their journey was going to become? In
life do we carefully choose our travelling companions? Never opening up our lives to others? In the faith how carefully
do we choose those companions? Are they people who will help us build and grow in discipleship, or, are they those
who will never push us, never challenge us . . . leave us just as we are? During this coronavirus journey what kind of
travelling companions have we chosen? Yes, in many ways it has been a journey spent isolated, but we have had
companions (fear, anger, impatience, intolerance, or, kindness, love, understanding, hope). Have those companions
been helpful or hurtful?
Every day of our lives we face countless opportunities to provide a life-changing, life-transforming, encounter for other
people. These encounters aren’t always “in-person.” Sometimes they are on the phone, virtual, text, email, prayer, or,
written messages such as cards or notes through “snail” mail. We make the decision who we will be to them and for
them. Will we be kind or cruel, welcoming or ignoring? Will we be encouraging or discouraging? Will we shoot down
their hopes and dreams, or, offer to help build them up? Are we going to destroy a person today, or, save a person
today? And no, I’m not being overly dramatic. This is life and it’s real. It’s the reality of the roads we walk. Especially
this current coronavirus road! As we continue to be the church and walk this road I invite us to let God guide our
journey and for us to carefully choose who we will be. Let’s just be Jesus to one another.
In Christ’s Love,
Karen