By Joe Rector

In a short time, two of the biggest days of the year are arriving. Christmas and New Years are times for many of us to realize again just how lucky we are to have a base of faith on which we can depend during the tough times. For the year 2020, our faith has been tested, and many have drawn on it as they have faced the serious effects of Covid-19 and the loss of a loved one to the virus.

For folks who have a belief in something bigger than themselves, God, regardless of the name used to call Him, has a central role in our lives. We ask for His help in fighting this new illness; we cry to him after losing a family member or friend; and we draw nearer to him as we fear what the future might hold.

At this special season, however, we live in the belief that with the arrival of Christ on earth that our lives have forever been changed. His life and death give us hope. We are confident that God will always walk with us, not necessarily changing events that befall us, but there, just the same, to help us deal with the trials and triumphs. We place our faith is something better than ourselves, and we believe that nothing in our power can separate us from the love of that being.

New Years is always a time for parties, countdowns, and fireworks. I suppose that most of us will ring in the coming year with a delirious joy that 2020 is gone. To be frank, the year has been less than stellar. We’ve spent it quarantining, socially distancing, and mask-wearing. Our country has experienced a contentious presidential election that has divided the country. Even after the votes are counted, objections and court filings have continued in a hope that the results would be overturned. The extremists on both sides engage in violence against each other.

New Years is also a time of excitement and hope. We look toward a future in this country where Covid-19 is eradicated with the help of vaccines. Individuals want to return to work to provide financial security for themselves and their families. The possibilities and surprises of the future keep us going because, for the most part, we humans are an optimistic bunch, no matter how much we gripe and moan.

We’ve experienced a once-in-a-generation pandemic that has knocked the props out from under us. Our tendency toward complacency has been erased. The losses in family, friends, and financial security have awakened us. Those of us who follow a belief in God will rely on his guidance through the coming year as we rebuild our lives. Perhaps our faith is stronger, or maybe someone has discovered a relationship with God. That would be good. Others will look to the coming year with a feeling that things will be better. Some might eat black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread for good luck.

I hope that each of you has a wonderful Christmas and holiday season, and I further hope that you find good luck, good health, and good fortune in the coming year. Give the country and all people a chance; we all might be surprised how quickly we unite into a strong and loving citizenry.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year!