A note from Bishop Dillahunt: Epiphany

Grace and peace be with you in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior.

The Gospel of John reminds us in the opening verses of Chapter 1: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

People of God in SOS, from telling the story of the Wise Men coming to see Jesus by following the light of the star (some of us even were able to see the astronomical event of the “Bethlehem Star”) to the baptism of our Lord (as we remember we are washed in those waters forgiven and sent with purpose to proclaim the news of Jesus) to preparing for yet another Ash Wednesday and Lent (which might look a lot like last year), Epiphany reminds us we are given every day an opportunity to bring HOPE, GRACE, LOVE to our neighborhoods, communities, state and nation because of Jesus.

What is obvious is, 2021 began as 2020 ended, with a global pandemic. Deaths and the spread of COVID have not stopped. We pray for those who grieve, those who are sick and those recovering. We pray for healing and strength for those who care for and work in hospitals and care facilities. We pray for those who are facing unemployment, that they may find work and for those businesses that are struggling, that they may find a way to survive.  Murders and deaths have not stopped. We pray for healing, a stop to senseless killing and for those who grieve the loss of loved ones, family and friends.  We remember we have the promise of resurrection.

The events of this past Wednesday brought all kinds of emotions and feelings: fear, anger, resentment, disbelief of the threats to our government and nation.  Actions and scenes from Washington DC, of violence, hate speech, racism, and death, were seen and heard across this nation. We prayed.  And we continue to pray for peace and justice. I signed on to the Ohio Council of Churches letter condemning the attacks on the Capitol. As the days unfold, we pray for an orderly and calm transfer of power on January 20th. In 2019, at the prompting of the Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA developed this ‘Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement in the United States’, which may be helpful to you for your own reflection and discussion and discernment within your family and congregation.

Psalm 25:4-5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

In the next week or so our medical expert who has been helping us navigate the waters of COVID, Dr. Curt Passafume, will again lead us through some FAQs about the vaccine and some ways we can safely distribute the ashes that remind us of our humanity and the fragility of life on Ash Wednesday. We will let you know when this information is available.

When a vaccine is available to me, I will get it. As I have said many times over the last 10 months, we, in the bishop’s office, miss seeing you in person. Thank you for the worship services you are providing. One of the good things that COVID has provided is that we are able to “visit” more congregations online for worship on Sundays. Many of you have invited us to “join” remotely and we appreciate the invitations.  Keep inviting us, send links and bulletins, since we will not visit in person or attend in-person meetings through February. These online worship services and your bulletins keep us connected, even as we are apart. In February, I’ll reassess where things are and let you know about travel plans in March.

THANK YOU for your continued Mission Support through SOS congregations. We have been blessed by your generosity and faithful giving. Keep it up! Just a gentle reminder that the fiscal year ends January 31st and we need to have year-end giving to us no later than January 29th to be recorded for the year. If by chance you want to drop off your donation for Mission Support at the Synod Office, you can do so by slipping it under the door of Suite 140 at 9200 Worthington Road, Westerville, OH (please place checks in an envelope so the check doesn’t get lost) OR send your check to our lockbox location at PO Box 0604, Lewis Center, OH 43035. Please send checks well in advance of January 29th as there continue to be significant delays with the US Mail system. Anything received after January 31st will be recorded for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Again, THANK YOU! You are awesome!

The Outside the Box Team reminds you: if you are a congregation who may need a bit of help with technology equipment, we have a few grants available. Contact Pr. Larry Donner for details at Thrive@southernohiosynod.org.

Our 2nd round of Vibrant Church events begins January 16th.  Classes are free! Thank you, Team! See our website for details.

If you are a new president of a congregation or even a returning one, watch for an announcement for a Zoom gathering in February for you. And if you are wondering about how to run an annual meeting remotely, we have resources available on the website from both SOS and ELCA. Click on link and choose the ‘Constitution Committee’ tab.

Finally, we trust and know that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. We share that message of hope with those around us in our communities and in our world. Stay healthy, stay safe, pray and know that we will see each other again, soon!

Stronger and Better Together…Joining Jesus in the Restoration of the World,

Bishop Dillahunt