The Past Year

Saturday, April 17, 2021
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Romans 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (NIV)

Like many of my pastor peers, for the past year, I've been leading online services and preaching each week from my office desk. This pandemic has changed everything about church, and I now wonder: when all of this is over, what will the church become? I've seen many articles and even read a few books which speculate what will occur to our faith in the post-coronavirus world, but really, nobody knows. We have all been altered and may even be suffering from pandemic fatigue or post-Covid trauma. How that will affect our cherished beliefs, worship patterns, and church events is mostly unknown, so how can we hold on to our faith in a world which has changed its course?

At the end of my weekly 12-minute sermons, I quote today's verse from Romans, not because it's something that Paul wrote, but because John Calvin, the father of Presbyterianism, concluded his lectures and sermons with this verse. I reckon that if it were important to him during the upheaval of the Reformation, as well as during the plagues that ravaged his society, then it could help me and the people that I serve, too. It appears to have worked, both for me and the church folks, because in the midst of everything that is changing, the consistency of God's support is always there.

When this pandemic finally concludes, we will emerge as God's people once again and be given all sorts of opportunities to help our broken world. No matter what we face, we can be assured of this great thought: if God is for us, who can be against us?

Question for reflection: How have I experienced God being with me throughout this pandemic?

Prayer: Lord God, this has been a difficult year for many of us because of the challenges and restrictions that we have all faced. Prepare our hearts and minds for what lies ahead, and remind us that we are not alone. In Christ's name, we thankfully pray. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great words of comfort, John. God bless.

    Thanks again John, for a devotion for these different times.

    Your personal story is very helpful to me today, John. I say Amen and Me Too.

    Thank you for your words in today’s Daily Devotional.

    Uplifting message this morning in these strange times. If God is for us, who can be against us indeed!

    Thank you for this encouraging email.
    May God bless you and your family and keep you safe during these trying times.

    Very well put, John. This was interesting for me to “hear” it from a pastor’s perspective. I, too, wonder what things will be like for our churches in another year or two. I am confident that God will keep His church intact, even if significantly altered.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. They caused me to reflect on the events of the past year and to consider the future of my church!
    God bless!

    Whenever I start to read a well written very thoughtful devotional, I know the name at the end will be yours, John.
    You serve so well!
    You bless many!

    Thanks John, in the first instance for the thoughts in your meditation.
    And also, for reminding Presbyterians of John Calvin being the father of the heritage we can own together.
    Appreciatively, a Reformed friend.

    Thank you, John, for your encouraging message and this text is one we all have to hold onto, for sure. I hope you and your family are doing well despite the difficult circumstances of the past year which continue even now. May you know the assurance of God’s presence, peace, and love as you minister to others.

    Good morning John,
    I have to let you know that we are doing quite well, we do miss our activities at the local Long Term Care Centre and our weekly church services, but as they say now “It is what it is” and through it all we know that God is with us and gives us the ability to cope
    Thank you for writing.

    Good morning John
    Thank you for the powerful verse in Romans!!! Yes, things look so different, but I often wonder how much worse it could be if it were not for God. It gives me hope knowing He is in control and is accomplishing things that I am not even aware of! Praise God, we are not alone, and He is always faithful.
    Have a blessed weekend.

    And thank you, John, for keeping in touch during this time. Our church is gradually gathering again. One of the reasons for less numbers is that our children and grandchildren increased the size of the congregation considerably and they all live out of town.
    Our home is on a ranch and is at least 20 minutes from town. SO, our family gathers after Easter worship in our fellowship hall for lunch so that they can get on their way. This Easter our daughter had her Lab with her. She sat in the fellowship hall with her dog where she could hear the worship service. I looked up from the choir and they had been invited to sit in the back pew… no one much around. I could not believe that the rambunctious dog sat TOTALLY still, never barked. It was our Easter miracle.
    Blessings to you and your ministry.

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