Happy New Year Dear Riviera Family!
I remember when I turned 30. In my twenties, like many younger people I was impatient. The world needed to change and I wanted to be involved in saving it.
Exploitation of the environment was causing the despoliation of God’s good creation, there was a crisis in the number of unwanted pregnancies, and people were filled with bigotry and prejudice that others must suffer from the violence it creates. And, why couldn’t we solve the problems of homelessness and hunger?
I wanted to be a part of the solutions and as my 30th birthday approached, I was depressed that none of these problems were solved…. I had been ordained for 4 years and they were all still there. And as I turned 30, I worried I might wallow in those feelings. But instead, on my birthday I woke up with the realization that I was still called. The fact those problems still existed gave purpose to my life. My job was not over!
And I worry that as this new year comes, we might have the same anxieties. 2020 was an awful year and we worked through it. And we hung on to the feeling that when 2020 would be over, things would be better. This pandemic brought on by COVID would be cured and life would return to normal. But the reality is, that as this New Year holiday comes, things will still be the same. We are still in a worldwide crisis. In fact, the COVID numbers are rising in parts of the planet. Yes, vaccines are being produced, but they won’t get to most of us until months from now and many, many more people will die. But God calls us to be faithful in this time. We don’t like wearing masks as much as the anti-maskers, but we do. And, my dear friends, we are helping others from contracting the virus when we stay home, when we don’t socialize in large groups, and painfully when we still worship on line and limit our fellowship and singing via ZOOM.
Your… my… our job is not over. God still calls us to love ourselves and others and one of the ways we can do it is by following the guidelines set by the CDC. It is the faithful thing to do. And while we do, we still have to work on all those other issues that have been there since I was in my 20’s.
My prayer is for you all to have a healthy and love-filled 2021.
In Christ and Love,
The Rev. Martha M. Shiverick
PS – As we begin a new year, I would be remiss if I did not also make a very public thank you to the staff at Riviera for their ministry to the church this past year. Last March, when the world changed, they did not waiver in their commitment to keep the church together and to continue the ministries to which God calls us. They have worked hard to ensure that we are still an active and healthy congregation called to share God’s love with the community and world.