Words from Rev. Ray

February 2022

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Blessings to you and your family during this ongoing time of the pandemic and social distancing. Prayers go out to you  on your journey  as you grow in awareness and appreciation of all that God has done for you and for creation in and through Christ Jesus.

As I pen this letter, our Hillcrest Sunday worship has moved back to being virtual, with the in-person worship being put on hold as a result of  the increase in COVID-19 cases. Sometimes in life it may feel like we take three steps forward and two steps back, or that  we need to run faster and faster just to stay in one place.

Our way of thinking and being, and our daily routines were hit hard in 2019 and 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19. Our schedules for shopping, going to the market for groceries, for work, for socializing or for going to school have been altered. With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, we have experienced some disruption yet again to our ability to move  forward and resume a more normal schedule. Change and adaption have been key components to navigating our days.

With ever-present change, each day brings new joys, challenges and opportunities for our work and witness. We are church together, and each day we are called to share God’s love and compassion with neighbor in the midst of change. We are called to reevaluate outreach and witness in our current context, for instance, do our ways of doing ministry still have value, or do some modifications need to be made? We at Hillcrest are in an Interim period, one where we are taking time to celebrate our history, evaluate our congregational gifts and talents alongside the needs of the community, and taking time to discern where God is calling us. Now is a great time to listen to how God may be calling us to participate in the Kingdom in new ways.

As we live in the present and navigate each day, important questions stir in our minds: When will the infection numbers decrease so that it may be ‘safe’ to gather once again? How long will this cycle of tight restrictions, loose restrictions, no restrictions continue?  Will I be able to get back to my normal schedule?   Many news announcers speak of the returning to ‘normal,’ the returning to ‘like it was before,’ to be a phased, step-by-step approach. Though the lifting of gathering restrictions may continue to be a phased approach, we may never go back to ‘normal,’ nor do we necessarily want to, or are we called to. As we are blessed with each new day from God, we are called to participate in what God is up to in the newness of the day.  Yes, that can be joyful, exciting, energizing, but for some, traumatic and anxiety producing. Mixed emotions come with change.

Whatever your feelings on change and the newness unfolding with each day, the good news is that God accompanies us. And from Romans 8:
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia. God’s Peace.

Pastor Raymond