Now is the time for all of our parish family to come together with every gift pledge, large or small, as we celebrate God's work here at St. Philip's and prepare for future ministry. Whether it's a few dollars from a child's lemonade stand or a more substantial gift, every person in our parish family matters, and we want everyone to be part of this generational opportunity to shine the light. If you haven't yet pledged, now is the time--as the old song says, "This little light of mine; I'm going to let it shine!" We need all those lights together to shine brightly for the Gospel!

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And God is Able

News--God is Able Abel

In the midst of this time of uncertainty, I hope you are well. May you find safe shelter not only in “social distancing,” but especially in drawing close to Him who is our true Dwelling Place—the Lord God Almighty.

The plunging stock market, the postponed Olympics, the loss of employment, the shortage of ventilators, the incalculable dilemmas facing health care providers, the number of canceled graduations—all these point towards painful realities and choices that must be made.

Close to home, you or people you know are suffering these unimaginable losses. Some of you have lost your jobs, while others are being worked, almost to death. One friend has been on a ventilator for over a week. Another has lost a third of her stock portfolio. A friend’s son is supposed to get married in hardly three weeks. My niece works in the ICU in Mobile, AL, and one of the patients, a musician who had just played at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, died today.

Despite the enormity of these losses, I hope you can find comfort in the knowledge that none of this is a surprise to our Lord Christ. He who knew us before we were ever in our mothers’ wombs, and He who knows the number of the hairs on our heads, surely understands our concerns, fears, and frailties.

Some of you may remember that I have a wide-mouth muppet named Abel. In the past, I used him with children to teach them that “with God’s help, I am able!” This was a paraphrase—pardon the editorial license—of that verse, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB). It’s a sweet lesson for little people. But it’s also an invaluable reminder for adults who, unlike children, struggle to believe with childlike faith that Jesus is really in control.

Many years back, when I was en route to Rwanda, I missed several airline connections and was stuck in Brussels for a four-day layover. I was praying that God would help me locate six pieces of luggage. There was no record of my bags on the flight from Chicago, and no airline official could help me locate them. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in those days, one couldn’t even find regular deodorant in Rwanda!

During my layover, I rode the train to Amsterdam, where I spent the day touring the city before returning to Brussels in the evening. On the train, I wish I could say that I was faithfully resting in the Lord, anticipating a fun day ahead. Instead, I fretted about whether I would retrieve my luggage. It was a cloudy, chilly day in early November, which aptly described my mood when I finally arrived in the city.

At the train station in Amsterdam, I bought a ticket for the canal ride, hoping that a tour around the city would help me get my bearings. The line to see Anne Frank’s house, formerly known as a canal house,” was too long for a visit, but at least I could float past it, remembering Anne’s two-year period of “self-imposed quarantine!” Worn down by worry, fatigue, and an early journey on the train, I sank down in the rickety craft on a soft, faded cushion. I suddenly glanced at the vessel ahead. My eyes brightened and my heart leaped! Lo and behold—on its stern, painted in large, bright letters, was the name, “ABEL.”

I can hear you now, “Oh Martha, what a cute coincidence!” Perhaps it was. But for me, it was much more significant than that. I smiled and let out a chuckle. God used that moment in Amsterdam to remind me, all alone and powerless on the canal, of His faithfulness—that He IS able to accomplish that which concerns me, that His power IS made perfect in weakness. I didn’t know where my bags were, but I knew that He knew!

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Co. 9:8 NIV).