This is my article that was published today in the Natoma-Luray Independent of The Russell County News.
The Lord be with you.
Some of you may be familiar with that phrase, or some variation of it, from worship. It is the first half of a common response offered to the congregation from the Pastor in the service. It is also a prayer that the Lord would be with you; that He would direct you, bless you and keep you from all harm and danger.
This past year had its rough spots for many of us. Not everything in 2012 went as planned or as hoped for. Some people got sick, some people are no longer with us, some people saw their lives turned completely around, and not always for the best. And so as we begin 2013, we begin it with the assurance that the Lord is with us now and always.
And yet, as we begin the New Year and pray for the Lord’s protection and blessing, we do so acknowledging that He was always with us this past year. When things were not going so well, God was always there, standing with us when the chaos seemed to overwhelm us. God was always present as we stood in doctor’s offices and hospital rooms and in nursing homes and in our own homes, watching loved ones suffer, or even when we were suffering ourselves.
And God was present when things were going well to. He was there when you celebrated birthdays and anniversaries; He was there when you welcomed new members into the family. He was there at the lake, there while you traveled, there while you spent time with others.
But God did not just show up for the really good times and the really bad times. God was there when you did the seemingly mundane things of life at work and school, went to ball games, and sat around the dinner table. God was there even when you thought you were all alone.
As a new year begins, the prayer that the Lord would be with you is offered once more; but it is not offered in the sense that He was not with you this past year; it is offered in the sense that He was with you in 2012 and that He will remain with you throughout 2013 and beyond.
The prayer offered for you in 2013 is that the Lord would be with you. That He would protect you, assure you of His presence, and keep you in His care. It is not just a prayer offered on the first week of January, but it is the prayer offered for you year round; that whenever you feel overwhelmed, with either joy or sadness, that you would remember, that the Lord is with you.
God Bless! Pastor Michael Schmidt