Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7

How can anyone rejoice with a resurgent pandemic, continued social unrest, and such extreme divisions?  Some of us are faced with serious injuries or devastating illnesses, while all of us worry about extreme weather events and rising prices.

But Paul does not tell us to rejoice in external situations such as health, weather, or prosperity.  Paul’s own personal circumstances were less than ideal.  He was faced with imprisonment, beatings, illness, worry about his churches, shipwrecks, and hunger.  So, Paul did not rejoice in his own circumstances, he rejoiced in the Lord.

He tells us that the Lord is near.  I believe that he is telling us that he experienced the presence of the Lord when he was hungry or full, in prison or free, in danger or safe, in bad weather or good.  In his prayers he could hear the voice of Christ, in his thanksgivings he could experience the miracles of the Holy Spirit, and in his life he was guarded by the peace of God.

Whenever you feel anxious, remember to pray.  Whenever you feel overwhelmed, think of all of God’s past blessings.  Whenever you feel hopeless, recall the times that God has protected and helped you.

The plans for Vacation Bible School have advanced.  Publicity is out, forms are available, and many volunteers have been recruited.  I am very thankful for all the effort that has gone into VBS this year.  Look for opportunities to help or donate.  Please pray that we can reach out to the children in the name of Christ.

With the increase of Covid cases, we need to remain cautious.  If you have not been vaccinated, this would be a good time to do so.  People who are vaccinated are much less likely to get ill and even less likely to be hospitalized or get seriously ill.  Remember that everyone who is fully vaccinated can enter without a mask.  We are trying to keep everyone as safe as possible.

If you wish to mail a check, you can use the following address: First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 69, Schaller, Iowa 51053, or you can drop the check off at the State Bank of Schaller.

Please pray for our leaders. Pray for people in our community who have Covid.  Pray for all who feel anxious or isolated. Pray for rain and for all who are suffering from drought currently.  Pray for firefighters and other first responders who are facing fires.  Pray for everyone who is suffering from excessive heat.  Pray for our community, our troops, and the various people on our prayer list.  Pray for the other parts of the world and this nation which are suffering more from this pandemic. 

May God bless and keep you,