From the District Superintendent

A Long December

Posted 16 December, 2020 by Rev. J. Douglas Forrester

A Long December 

The lyric above comes from a song by Counting Crows called "A Long December." It is a song I have loved since it was released in 1996 when I was a seminarian at Duke and working as a hospital chaplain. It is a sad song about change, loss, and how impermanent so many things in this life can be, a song that encapsulates how I find myself feeling as I write this. 

It has indeed been a long December, capping off a long, long year. The year 2020 has been a year of loss, grief, and forced change all born of the carnage of COVID-19. It has been a year when we all yearned for things to somehow get back to how they once were, knowing in our heart of hearts that months and years to come will most likely, at best, be similar to once was. Similar, but certainly not the same.

Change can be hard enough in a good year, but to have it forced upon us as it has been by this global pandemic has wrought in all of us a sense of mourning what was and what could have been. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promises us that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. I have been remembering that verse a great deal in 2020, in this year when what was strong has seemed fragile, what was fragile has seemed vulnerable, and what was vulnerable has, in so many ways, been lost to us. In many ways, those fiery gates have never seemed closer than they do today.

And yet, it is the promise of Hebrews 13:8 that it is Jesus who does not change, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is Jesus alone and not my life, your life, or the church's life that is unchanging. The promise, therefore, is that it is Christ and his love for us that will remain constant when nothing else will.

And that is the source of our greatest hope, even as we face an uncertain future. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and will be until the end of the age.

The chorus of "A Long December" begins with the following lyrics:

A long December and there's reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last

As we stand at the threshold of 2021, I pray that the coming year will be better for you than this year has been. I pray it is a year of more pearls and fewer empty oysters for you. Most of all, I give thanks to God for each of you, clergy and lay, for your persistence, your fortitude, your courage, and the hope you have embodied in 2020. 

God is with us, even here, even now, come what may.

Gloria In excelsis Deo,