A Gratitude for Unity

“Behold, how good and how pleasant, it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Covid-19 swept over our world, instantly changing our lives. One day our children were at school, the next they were home indefinitely. One Sunday we were at church, the next week we couldn’t gather for worship. Never before in my lifetime had I experienced anything like this pandemic.
At first, it seemed as if we were on a staycation. We were not sick, we just suddenly had nowhere to go. It was amazing! It felt like a much-needed breather from the busyness of life. I could take the time to read to my kids, play a game with them, or bake cookies. I could do all of this without feeling like I was in such a rush. Close quarters did not  increased fighting or strife, rather I felt God’s grace upon our home. We drew closer to each other and appreciated the time spent together. When the world around me was out of my control, I learned to appreciate my home, family, and blessings even more than I had before.
The kids still had to learn, of course, and they struggled to adjust to online school. We were all under one roof more than we had been previously, and some days it was very difficult to have four grades being taught in one home! The children had to learn to respect each other’s space.
I felt more in tune with my kids and what they were learning in school because I was there every day assisting them. I felt responsible to help them keep up on their education. At times, they would become very frustrated and stressed but I was there to encourage and soothe them.
While our unity at home was getting a real work out, so was our unity with our congregation. Church is the very center of our life. The weirdest feeling was not getting up on Sunday and dressing for church.  All the game nights, outreach nights, picnics, everything that normally fills our life was canceled indefinitely, leaving our lives with an odd sense of loss. How many times have we heard the sayings, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.”
This was certainly the case. While we were away from each other in body, we remained close in spirit. Our pastor never quit carrying a burden for our souls and several members in the congregation helped put together services that were live-streamed. Sunday school teachers prepared lessons that were delivered to the children. Prayers were offered up for each other. Groceries were given to those in need. Cards were mailed to homes as we suddenly valued our communication with each other more than ever.
When we finally all got back to church for services, it was so special. To sing our congregational songs together and lift our voices up to God in praise was a beautiful thing. We don’t take our right to assemble for granted anymore. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
~ C Karns

What have you learned from your trials?

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5: 10 “But the God of all grace, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

Instead of letting our hard times cripple us, we can rise from them with more grace, more gratitude and a new perspective on life. God may have put us through the fire so we could come forth as gold. Though the fire was hot and in the moment it seemed like you would never make it through, you did! With Him by your side, you can make it through anything.

Does this mean that God wants us to suffer pain and hardship? On the contrary! Christ is known for his deep love and compassion for us, and He came to this world as a baby to put Himself in our place– to experience earthly sorrow just like we do. But He also wants what is ultimately best for our lives– what will bring us closer to Him! Sometimes, that may be a trial.

Last March, we were all struck with a trial. One that, unlike most trials, affected almost everyone in the world. We all experienced the trial differently. Some grew deathly ill, or lost loved ones. Some suffered job loss and tough financial times. Some, both children and parents alike, were affected by school closures. Some suffered all of the above!

It is not for us to know why it all happened in the way it did.  But we as Christians do know that He was with us every step of the way. With our unique perspectives and experiences, we all learned something different. In this issue, you’ll find articles about how various members of the Church of God at Connoquenessing came through– what inspired them, and what they will remember.

We at the Church of God at Connoquenessing wish you a wonderful holiday season and health and happiness for your friends and family’s future. If you keep Him first, He is sure to bless it.

~ A Irwin

When It’s All Said and Done

As a nation, we have just completed a very complex and difficult year. Amid much turmoil, many changes have been faced collectively as well as individually. Looking ahead to 2021, what would you like to see happen? What would you like to accomplish? The key to true success is putting emphasis on what matters most. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Life often poses difficulties, bringing anxieties coupled with justifiable concerns. This causes us to expend time and energy trying to solve our problems.

But what should our first response be? To pray and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do? How can I best handle this situation while pleasing you? How can I bring glory to your name? Help me cast my burdens upon you.”

Some issues may be resolved quickly and    others may never see an answer. Oftentimes the outcome is not what we predicted or deemed best. Just remember it is most important that God remains with us. When it is all said and done, we will be accountable for whether or not we served Him. It won’t matter  whether we experienced good or poor health, how much material gain we obtained, or who holds certain political offices.

So what are your priorities? Where is your focus? Paul gives sound advice in Colossians 3:2, “Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.’’

Of course there is a certain care we must give: to make a living, secure a home and a future, and maintain good physical health. But even in all of this, our first priority must be given to spiritual man.

Daily taking time to pray and read God’s Word; making sure that we are living in a manner pleasing to Him. Attending church services to worship God and hear the preached word is also crucial. In the end, what we have accomplished for God is what really counts. Nothing else will matter. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

~ A Roxbury


A Visit to the King

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Joel trudged along the path. He was on his way to see the King, and he was tired and thirsty. Finally he saw the castle in the distance and his excitement grew as he imagined sitting down to talk with the King and telling him all about his journey. Perhaps the King would offer him a cool drink of water and a bite to eat.

Joel approached the grand, imposing gate and was stopped by the husky and intimidating guard. “I just want to see the King,” Joel said in a halting voice. He was just a small boy and the soldier was very tall.

“Go away,” said the guard gruffly, “you cannot enter without an appointment.” Joel turned and ran back down the path. He was so disappointed he finally sat down under a tree and cried.

“What’s wrong?” someone asked. Joel looked up and there stood a man with a sack over his shoulder and a walking stick in his hand. “Sir, I came a long way to visit the King, and they won’t let me in.” Joel explained.

Sitting down beside him, the man reached into his sack and pulling out an apple, offered it to Joel. “You must be hungry after such a long journey.”  he said kindly. “Yes, thanks,” said Joel. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back there.” The man rose to his feet and held out his hand. “Why don’t you try again?” he suggested, “I’ll come with you this time.”

Joel stood and hesitated, then took the man’s hand and gripped it tighter and tighter as they came within sight of the gate. “Look, I don’t want to be any trouble,” Joel stammered, “I’ll just go back home.”

“You are so close,” the man replied quietly, “Don’t give up now child, simply trust me a little longer.” Joel gulped, took a deep breath, and walked on with his companion.

The guard swung the gate open wide as they approached. “Welcome home Sir!” he saluted. Joel’s jaw dropped in astonishment. “Who are you?” he said looking up at his friend.

“I am the King’s Son, and because you put your faith and trust in me, you can enter in at the gate with me and see the King,” said the man.

“Wow! I can’t wait to return home after my visit and tell my family and friends, so they can come visit and praise the King too!” exclaimed Joel.

If you would like to meet the King, you must do as Joel learned. Have Faith and Follow His Son– Jesus!

-By R Trauger