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Pastor Cheryl Matthews Report

"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heavens. I will be exalted in the all the earth." Psalm 46

Dear Friends in Christ:

Grace and peace to you. It would be an understatement to say this year has been very strange. There has been so much going on that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of it all. The days feel longer than normal. Covid-19, distance learning for our youth in schools, a contentious and trying election cycle, a quick spring, a hot summer, a cold and blustery October, a warmer than normal start to November have had many of us question what has been going on. I enjoy the chillier months that is Wisconsin, but to see temperatures in the 30s during October is definitely something new - and a lot of us agree. This has been a strange year, indeed.

However, there have been so many positives this year as well. There have been many celebrations in our faith community, and I want to highlight them as well. We started Facebook Live worship with an excellent worship team so that we could continue to worship during the pandemic. We celebrated confirmation for our youth, gathered outside for worship, and shared Joy posts on Facebook. We started the Food Pantry which helps those who struggle to provide enough food for their families in these challenging times. And now being able to worship back inside as we enter into our new normal. Yes, we still distance ourselves from one another and wear face masks, but with needed safety measures comes a way of doing worship a bit different. And in my opinion, this has gone quite well, and folks are okay with that.

This year, so much has occurred, and some have questioned whether or not God has abandoned God's beloved people. I emphatically believe that God has not abandoned us; rather God has raised us up to be better than ever. Through our faith, given to us by the Holy Spirit, we are called to hold onto the fact that our God stands with us in all our ups and downs. Whether it is a bad day, a test result that we choose not to believe, or a great loss in life, we still hold to the faith that God does not abandon us ... we are loved and nothing can separate us from the love, forgiveness, grace, and life that God has bestowed upon us. Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, and remember that God is with us. 'Be still and know that I am God,' says our Lord, and we are called to exalt the heavens and the earth - all that is seen and unseen.

This month the church year winds down and we look toward the season of Advent, and beginning, again. We are reminded of the Kingdom of God and how close it is for us, as Christ tells us in the Gospel According to Matthew.

This Kingdom also reminds us that God is near, and we are to praise and worship the Creator. As you observe Thanksgiving this year, remember our families, our homes, the clothes on our backs, the fruitful harvest that has been brought in, and the vocations we have chosen are details in our lives for which we give God thanks. All of these blessings come from God, who stands by us in times of peril and in times of celebration, and everything in between.

I encourage you this month to reflect on the positives and push away the negatives that surround us. The everpresent news cycles and 'bad news' that come with it can easily get us down. I challenge you to push those to the side and concentrate on all that is good. And remember that God is with us - always. God loves us unconditionally and that is what I am most thankful for.

Bless you all and may God's peace continue to shine on you and be gracious unto you. 

Pastor Cheryl

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