“Is that You who is One of the Seven Thousand?”

“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19: 18)

On the day before this past Christmas Eve, there was a snowstorm and it was very cold. I felt sad, thinking of the Christmas Eve service. Even though we have been experiencing the COVID 19 pandemic, we expected to have our Christmas Eve service in person, even an out-door service. Since we had Drive-in services at Atlas Park from the end of May through No-vember, our parish SPRC Committee planned to have Christmas Eve Service at Atlas Park. However, the COVID 19 pandemic continued to threaten us more and more. Finally, we had to stop all in person services and gatherings as a precaution of the COVID 19 pandemic. Preparing Christmas Eve service, I felt sad that we couldn’t gather in person.

At that moment, one of our parishioners visited my office, bringing a flowerpot as a Christmas gift. It was wrapped well with a paper box and plastic bag. It was a beautiful pot with Christmas decorations on it, but it seemed not to have a flower or plant. I was wondering what it is. She seemed to know about my curiosity. She asked me, “Do you know about Amaryllis?” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” She said, “This is an Amaryllis. It has a bulb. If you water it, it grows and will eventually bloom. I think you can give it good care because you like gardening.”

She is right. I love gardening, but I was wondering if it will grow and have flowers. I brought it to my house and put it with the other plants to get sunshine. After a few days later, the Christmas decoration on the flowerpot was dried and fell. Besides, it seemed to be dead. I could not see any vitality on the bulb. I worried about it and researched how to take care of it. I found that “water enough to keep the soil moist and avoid wetting the portion of the bulb, and put it at the sunny spot.” So, I moved it to a sunny spot and watered it every morning. It grew fast every day. Every morning, I was surprised at how fast it was growing. Today, it came into bloom. I feel marvelous looking at it. How could it grow and flower from a bulb, which looked like it was dead? At that moment, a word came to my mind, “hope.” “Hope” is to expect to see the reality from the thing we couldn’t see. For about one month, I was waiting for the flower, which I had never seen. Finally, it is blossoming wonderfully in front of me.

Many people are worried and concerned if our church members will be able to come back to the church after the COVID 19 pandemic ends. The pandemic destroyed many things such as our physical, spiritual and emotional health, economic situation, public institutional sys-tems, homes, and even our daily lifestyles. The pandemic flipped the whole world upside down. Digital communication and wearing masks became a new normal lifestyle. We may wonder what the church will look like in the future. Furthermore, we may wonder if there is any hope for the church.

The prophet Elijah, who was lifted to heaven without death later, faced challenges to keep his faith. Many prophets were killed or bowed Baal. Elijah, who was left alone, won to destroy all Baal prophets on Mount Carmel. However, after the great victory, he became a fugi-tive to the desert for the rest of his life because Queen Jezebel, who supported Baal, sent a mes-senger to kill him. He stayed alone under a broom tree in the desert and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” And then he sat down under the tree and fell asleep. However, God did not give up on him. Instead, God sent an angel to take care of him. He woke up. God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have for-saken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, taking it away” (1 Kings 19:9-10). God gave him a new mission to build the new nation, anointing a new king of Israel and a prophet, saying, “I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1Kings 19:18).

The COVID 19 pandemic perhaps tries to take our faithful life away as the Baal proph-ets in Israelites killed many of God’s prophets. However, God will keep God’s people for the kin(g)dom of God as if God protected seven thousand people, who kept their faithfulness in God. If you feel that you are alone, as did Elijah, you must be one of the seven thousand people of God. I believe that God calls the people back soon for his ministry. I hope that you keep your faith in God until God calls you back to the church. It will be shortly. The Letter of Hebrews says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval” (Hebrews 11:1-2). As if an Amaryllis blossomed from a bulb, which looked like it was dead, the church of God will thrive with the seven thousand peo-ple of God. I would ask you, “Is that you, who is one of the seven thousand people?”

Blessings, Pastor Jenny