After a memorable 2020, January 2021 has been memorable as well. Long-awaited rain fell in Tucson this past week, showing itself as snow on the mountains, creating beauty and relief to a very parched desert. I couldn’t help but stand out in the rain! Art and I even found ourselves taking a hike in light rain earlier in the week. Thank you, God, for rain.

Other things happened at St. Mark’s in January. We began a new worship theme for 2021, “Love Is …” and are in the middle of a series, “Grounded in Love.” This Sunday, Jan. 31, I’ll be talking about “Clothed in Love” (Colossians 3), with some thoughts on clothing through the years and what we might need to take off and put on.

The St. Mark’s Covenant Council approved a budget for 2021 at its meeting on Jan. 19. The approved budget is $1,153,779, about an $86K reduction from 2020. To fund the budget we will use some of our unrestricted funds. Mostly, though, we depend on donations from all of you and say “thank you” in advance for the generosity that I’m sure you will show throughout 2021.

As we all know, COVID-19 vaccines began to be more widely distributed this month, although the availability of vaccines has been slow in our area. I know that some of you have received the vaccines (or the first dose) or have appointments for it. I look forward to the next weeks and months when all of us who want to receive the vaccine can do so. Many of you have said that you would feel comfortable returning to in-person worship once a vaccine is widely distributed, so that’s another hope I have for the next months – seeing you again in worship! Right now we’re still doing only recorded worship but are making plans for drive-in services in our south parking lot on Sunday mornings. Watch for more info.

We all know January began with the violence at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. I find I’m still in shock and sorrow about the events of that day. Jan. 20 marked the beginning of a new administration in our national government and my daily prayers surround President Biden, Vice-President Harris, our other government officials and the difficult work that is ahead of them. I encourage you to be in daily prayer for our country as well.

Now we turn our attention to plans for Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17. Watch for a mailing coming to your homes in about a week with info about Lent and a bookmark that can guide our prayer and commitments during Lent.

Yes, it’s already been a memorable year! My prayers are with those who are sick and those who care for them and for all of us as we seek to stay well and serve Christ faithfully in the midst of it all. God is with us!


We continue to worship online at umcstmarks.org/live-worship, Facebook St. Mark’s UMC Tucson and YouTube UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley.