By Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister

We have a new president.
We have a new tone.
We have a new national agenda.

Our work remains.

I suspect that for most Americans yesterday, inauguration day, was a refreshing ray of hope amid the ongoing challenges we face. I found it uplifting to hear a president speak with rationality, compassion, honesty, sincerity, unity, and civility. It stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric we have been hearing on many fronts for far too long. And I hope it becomes the prevailing tone throughout our nation’s leaders and the general population. As we all know, there are many challenges that we face right now and bitter division among us will not provide the focus we need to move forward.

I especially found Tuesday night’s service of mourning at the Washington Mall moving. I hadn’t planned on watching it (and didn’t even know it was happening) but stumbled across it when I turned on the news while washing the dishes. It was beautiful. To have our national leadership recognize the loss and grief we have experienced during the pandemic was powerful.

For many of us, all of this is a welcome change.

However, while this may change may be refreshing and point in a new hope-filled direction, it doesn’t significantly alter OUR purpose to worship God, embrace all people, minister to one another, work for justice and peace, and render loving service to God’s world.” Whether these ideals are the focus of our national agenda, or the antithesis of it, they remain our call from God. The question remains, “How do we live out this mission?”

There are two main ways we can embody this call from God: communally and personally. Communally refers to the work we do together as the church. Personally, as it implies, is the work we do individually in our own lives. As a member, or participant, of BCCUCC you accept the challenge to live out our mission in both realms. How are you doing that?

To be honest, the pandemic raises significant obstacles to this. It is not easy, or even possible, to engage in our regular activities while following the necessary pandemic precautions. Yet that does not mean we cannot succeed at finding new ways of worshipping God, embracing all people, caring for one another, working for justice and peace, and rendering loving service to God’s world. It only means we may need to be more creative in our approaches.

For instance, caring for one another may simply mean picking up the phone and giving a call to someone from the church you haven’t seen in a while. Say “hello.” Ask how they are doing. Tell them you miss them. This may not be all that creative, but it takes a step beyond just turning to them during in-person worship, shaking their hand, and saying hello during the passing of the peace. It takes effort as well as creativity to minister during a global crisis.

What about rendering loving service? Have you reached out to your neighbors, coworkers, or acquaintances to see if they need anything? We may not be able to do a Loaves and Fishes run, but we can collect blankets for TAPIN, buy groceries for our neighbor, or write a card to a relative we haven’t seen in a while. There are so many ways to simply say, “I love you,” without words that can express God’s love for others in our lives.

Are you interested in working for justice and peace? Take a look at the eBridge each time it comes out. Our Mission and Justice Team always has a list of links to events, programs, and projects you can learn from or participate in. Check it out.

Worshipping God and embracing all people, likewise, can be experienced in multiple ways. Yes, we have virtual worship, and that may or may not be your cup of tea, but you can worship God in so many other ways; with acts of kindness, through reading scripture, by starting a personal prayer routine. And embracing all people should start in your own life. Who are those you struggle most to understand or accept? What can you do to change the way you look at them? How can you better accept them, as different as they may be, as beloved children of God? There are so many different and unique ways to be in ministry and to grow in faith. Which are you choosing?

Last month, I asked to “Turn the Page” on 2020. We have, thank God. But what are we going to do with the blank slate that is before us? How are you going to support global, national, and local initiatives that run parallel to our shared mission? How are you going live out this same mission in your own life, and in your own immediate surroundings? Each of us, no matter how restricted or confined, are capable of this is on some scale. Think about how you can do it.

So, welcome to our new administration. Welcome, to our new national priorities. And welcome to a renewed commitment to our ongoing mission from God. May we remain faithful to our call.