1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
~Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Flagstaff was not such a little town anymore. New developments and shopping centers pushed further away from the old town centers. I was tasked with a somewhat unusual job for a police officer in managing communications and 911. Our radio coverage was suffering in some parts of town and officers couldn’t reach dispatch but, as with many municipal projects, there wasn’t money available for a major overhaul. But, perhaps a good band-aid could take care of the communication needs for a few years. It was time to relocate some radio transmitters and receivers. After some research, I came up with a plan, but it required putting a new tower in next to the Geological Survey plant but on city property. The plan required agreements with the federal government’s building management team, USGS, private enterprise, and, worst of all, a rezoning request.
The Chief and city manager both told me it would never pass, and I wouldn’t be able to obtain the agreements and permits necessary. “Well, that’s a challenge I’ll take,” I thought. A few months later, with permits in hand, excavation began for the foundation of the tower. It’s now been over 30 years and that tower is still serving the city albeit, with new, modern communication gear.
Perseverance – continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. The writer of Hebrews charges us to persevere in our journey of faith against all odds.
March 15, 2020 was our last full worship service when covid-19 hit though many of you had already chosen to stay home that day. This month marks one year. It has been a difficult year for so many of you who have been isolated and lonely. We’ve had to say farewell to too many of our friends without celebrating their life together. We have been without. Without the fellowship, encouragement, and joy of being together.
We were one of the very few churches that continued providing worship without interruption and to offer a complete service very close to our in-person worship. We have many new friends who have found us, rediscovered us, or who have stumbled across us on the internet and I give God thanks for our presence, preparation, and persistence in providing quality worship, information, and connection.
In December, we made the decision to resume in-person worship on a limited basis. Some have criticized us for meeting, others for not fully re-opening. I am very optimistic as we begin this month preparing for Easter. We will worship Easter and we’re planning a sunrise service, so stay tuned for details on that. As vaccines are made more readily available and the illness rates stabilize, we’ll be able to return more and more to a sense of normalcy.
Nevertheless, there are new ministries and mission coming out of LUMC and we’ll continue to grow those even as we return to the old, familiar ones. I’m looking forward to restarting the 8 am service too.
You have persevered and run the race with us, but we’re not done yet. The race continues as we work together to share the good news of Jesus with more people. I’m grateful for all you’ve done, the phone calls to one another, groceries purchased, errands run, and much more as you have cared for each other. I hope you will share with us your stories of perseverance, overcoming, and acts of mercy and compassion over these months, you will encourage others if you share. Don’t give up, keep up the phone calls, short visits, food ministries, and transportation ministries. It is vital work. If you have not connected online with LUMC, get your phone out and call someone to cheer them up, you will be blessed. Write a note, mail a card. Thank you!
We have HOPE for we are an Easter people!
Grace and peace, Pastor John