Happy New Year! Folks,

(Below is excerpted from my first midweek pastoral letter for the new year. I thought I would publish it here to share my hope and my thankfulness to God.)

As we begin another new year together, we yet hope for better things to come. Do we not? Of course, many hope this year proves to be a better year than the past two, hoping for an end to the COVID pandemic. And there may be a sign of the end to that, believe it or not with the Omicron variant. I have been reading some news reports of late that indicate, even though the Omicron variant is more infectious with record numbers of people getting COVID, it seems that the Omicron is not as harmful as the infamous Delta variant has been. There are less hospitalizations with Omicron. And, yes, even vaccinated individuals have been infected with Omicron, however, with much less severity of illness when compared to non-vaccinated individuals. And it turns out, that those infected with Omicron, seem to have a much higher protection against the more deadly Delta variant. Here is a January 3, new years headline from The Daily Wire: “The SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron is leading to the end of the worldwide pandemic, Denmark’s chief epidemiologist predicted, meaning ‘we will have our normal lives back in two months.'”

Wouldn’t that be great if that were to happen? Two months to what one health expert is calling a return to a “normal life.” Yes, we should take all such advice with a grain a salt, as my dad used to say, yet there is hope.

And, as Christians, and especially as Adventists, we know that no matter what life is like down here on this earth, there is a better day coming. That Day will come when Jesus appears in glory. We wait for it with eager expectation. We wait in hope. And we pray for God’s guidance and His many faceted ways to help us now, in this life. For physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual healing for those who need healing. Being thankful for the many ways in which God has provided for us.

I am thankful for food, shelter, clothing, and for medical help when needed. And, so I thank God for the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals that do provide their skills and sympathy to bring physical healing to those of us in need. Pray for them who God has led into the medical professions to help others.

But, I also thank God for the many other professionals and workers who provide services that make our lives more comfortable and bearable. Think, for example, of all those working to maintain cities and communities and households with electricity. My dad was one of those. He was a lineman. And often, he would be called in to restore electricity to whole neighborhoods, for example, when a vehicle crashed into a power pole and took out the power.

And there are many other kinds of workers for whom we should be grateful. Those who deliver mail. Those who maintain wireless, internet and telephone services. Those who educate our children in public and private schools. Those who drive the trucks that transport all our products and goods to markets and stores where we can easily purchase things like food, clothing, and materials to build with. And for those who run the stores, like food stores, hardware stores, and clothing stores at which we can shop. And for those who serve at the many kinds of restaurants to feed people like you and me.

Can you add to this list? Of course. I would like to suggest that we, God’s people should be foremost of all people in this world at being thankful and practicing thankfulness to others. For as Jesus said, “When you have done it to the least of these… you have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).

Grace & Peace,Pastor Dean

Published by Dean C. Read

I am a follower of Jesus Christ who seeks to make Him known to those who do not yet know Him, and to make Him better known to those who do. Thus, God has led me throughout my life of now over 6 decades. I have been married to and in love with the same woman for over 38 years and we have children and grandchildren whom I also love. That does not mean my family has not been through trials. We human beings certainly know how to test and even hurt those we love. But, God Himself also knows the challenges, the trials and even the fickleness of human love. Yet, Jesus has demonstrated that God's love is sure and secure, faithful to the very end. So, yes, I love because God is love. And, I seek to make the love of God known as it should be. I am a pastor, a preacher and a teacher of God's word, the Bible. Before I became a preacher, I was a public school teacher, and before that I worked at various jobs including, painting, construction, ambulance EMT, parts assembler, and even a paperboy back in the day. In school I played trumpet in the band, was a track and cross country runner, enjoyed most subjects including History, English and Science, and yet, after graduating from high school, I struggled to find my path. Perhaps you can identify? I did not graduate with my Bachelor's degree until I was 26 years old. And yet, from an early age I knew that God was a God of love, and that He had a plan for me, if I would just be open to His leading. God has brought me through many trials, and has always been there to pick me up when I had fallen or been discouraged. And now, I hope to write in such a way to attract others to this God of love. By the way, I also enjoy camping, reading and outdoor activities, especially strolls on the beach, or hiking a mountain trail. My favorite places on earth are Sequoia National Park because of the Giant Sequoia trees, Yosemite National Park, and the jewel of Georgia known as Jekyll Island. I could tell you more; but hopefully, as you read my posts you will learn more about the God whom I love.

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