Scripture (click): 1 Corinthians 13:9-13

Today’s Devotional Reflection is provided by Rick Guay, one of our Deacons.  In his capacity as our Home Ministries coordinator (which includes arranges the compiling and delivery of Thanksgiving/ Christmas/ Easter food boxes, among other things), Rick emailed the Deacons with some follow-up information as they continue to make plans for the Easter food box packing.  More than just details, however, Rick’s email was a message of HOPE and FAITH.  Thank you for allowing us to share it, Rick.
(All readers: please consider sharing a devotional reflection, or favorite poetry, etc., so that God’s wisdom and inspiration might flow from many directions, and we can get to know each other better in a novel way!)

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I Hope you’re all healthy and safe.

It’s the first day of Spring today and it snowed. That doesn’t make it feel like Spring but it’s up there behind the clouds, somewhere and it’s just waiting to bust out along with all the flowers! I know so.

I got to thinking about something today. It was only 20 days ago that I put out a request for coverage for Deacon Duty and Home Ministries events. It’s truly unbelievable how much the world has changed in the past three weeks. We collectively think differently now. Back then I was Worried about the coverage or lack of coverage, when I heard back from just Tom. Having gone through this exercise before, I convinced myself that it would all work out. I Hoped it would and it DID! At our last Deacons meeting, Izcar and I swapped dates and a bunch of you stepped up with offers to help out with Home Ministries! It all worked out!

In hindsight, that was a bunch of wasted Worry for nothing but I don’t think it was wasted Hope. Funny thing is (well, not so funny), just 10 days since our last Deacons meeting, Christopher has postponed his trip home from NC to a later date TBD, my CEU’s class down in Worcester has been postponed until a later date TBD (after the deadline required for recertification! Not sure how that will all work out but I’m sure it will.) and church services were cancelled for at least the two weeks that Izcar and I swapped. You just don’t know what’s gonna get thrown at you, so you just Hope for the best and then adjust as necessary. Worry is going to happen but most often, when you look back on it, it didn’t do much for you at all. Hope does though.

Val was Worried this past Saturday morning. She got up and out to Shaw’s to buy groceries, trying to beat the rush. When she got there, she texted me that the parking lot was packed and inside the store was a mad-house. All the fruits and vegetables were wiped out as well as the meat department, pasta aisle, water aisle and the paper goods aisle. Practically the whole store. She called me and said that the only thing that was really left was snack foods, chips and such. There’s a lot of Fear right now and everyone got up early to beat the crowds to the supermarket. Fear will get you. At about 1:00 that afternoon, I drove Val to the pet store and The Paper Store to grab some things. Shaw’s parking lot was about half full at that point. I said to her jokingly “What were you talking about? Everything looks normal.” She couldn’t believe it herself. I told her that I’ve got to see inside Shaw’s for myself. We went in and everything had been restocked, everywhere (except for the paper goods aisle. That was still wiped out). She was in disbelief. I grabbed some carrots, a green pepper, some apples and oranges, two bottles of water and some ice cream. I was happy to get those things.

I recently spoke with Tonda. Some of the school nurses asked about Easter Home Ministries food boxes. We talked it through. We still plan on packing the 40 boxes but I think we’ll just have a couple adults do it this round. I’ll reach out to CE and Pat to let them know. Schools may still be closed on our delivery date (April 6th) so we’ll need to figure out how the food gets to the nurses or end users. We talked about the possibility of some picking their boxes up at the church. We’ll need to come up with a plan on that end. Normally, I drop off the food list to Norm at Hannafords a week prior to pick up but we thought it would be better to get him the list early, which I did on Tuesday. Norm assured me that there is no problem on the supply side to get the things on our list, that the empty shelves were happening on the demand side. He’s been putting in 14 hour days and it has been hectic for them but he said he would pull our list together for our pick up date of April 4th. If something does run out, like hams or eggs, he said that he would just replace those things with something else they do have in stock. I’ll also be reaching out to Brookdales, Marguerite’s Place and Tolles Street Mission to see what their protocols will be.

I’ll also still plan on putting up the flowering cross, unless anyone else objects to that. I’m freed up on Palm Sunday now, so I could do it then. I’ll have it installed and then others can figure out the logistics on how to fill it up. Let’s give everyone a little Hope that life still goes on and that it’s beautiful even in times of sadness and turmoil.

Like all of you right now, I’m still Worried and Worry leads to Fear but I’m also Hopeful. I remember this feeling very clearly from 2007-2012. Those were difficult years. Nothing like those years had ever happened before in my lifetime, even surpassing the feelings I had in September of 2001 and the lead up to Y2K.

I want to share an article I recently saw which highlights that point in time, one year after rock bottom in the stock market. As I read it, I was astounded by the words. They are eerily similar to the words we are hearing right now:  https://abcnews.go.com/Business/year-ago-today-dow-hit-bottom-recession/story?id=10046578

As bad as 2007-2012 were for us financially, they were some really spectacular years for our family otherwise. One great vacation in Rhode Island with Val’s side of the family, coaching sports for the boys teams, incredible church involvement and really getting creative about different ways to do things. Things that didn’t require money. We were very stressed out during those years and also very happy. That’s weird. Really weird, right?

After an understandable initial pullback from consumers at that time, many of them stepped up shortly after the darkest days and decided to move forward with their projects again. One by one they initiated Hope. Hope got me through those times, one Hopeful event at a time, day after day, we rebuilt ourselves.

I completely understand that back then it was financial and today it is two-fold – health and financial.  I’m not making light of the current situation. I’m just trying to gain some perspective. Some Hope. I do believe that we will be ok. It won’t seem so at times but I do believe.

I’m buying some gift certificates to a few small, family owned restaurants right now. The couple bucks here and there may not pay the rent for them, unless a whole bunch of folks buy G.C. but I think it will give them Hope. If we can all give someone, somewhere just a little Hope in your own ways, I guarantee, it will make all the difference. You can see it in their eyes. Even if just for a moment. They need that Hope to get to the next lily pad of Hope. That’s what’s going to get everyone through this.

Thank you for hearing me out for a bit.

Have a Hopeful, Happy, Safe and Healthy day,

Rick

Thank you, Rick!!

Music (click): “All My Hope on God is Founded”  (Sung by the Georgia Boy Choir during Lent, 2018.)

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