As I write this, we have just finished our first-ever virtual convention via Zoom and we begin our next biennium in a world none of us ever imagined. Two years ago in Boulder, Colorado, I was surrounded by hundreds of LWML sisters and brothers as I closed our 2018 convention and began my term as District President. Saturday, as I closed the 2020 convention, I was alone in my spare bedroom wearing purple flip flops, wishing we could be together. 

As many of you know, when I began my term as President, I chose a favorite passage of scripture as theme verses for the biennium. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)

I knew there would be challenges ahead and that at times I would be overwhelmed by the tasks facing me. I wanted to remind myself to rely fully on God and not let my circumstances steal my joy in serving the women of the LWML in the Rocky Mountain District. I had no idea the challenges and the blessings that lay ahead.

One of the challenges we face as a district is the large geographic area of the Rocky Mountain District. We are spread across parts of five states and over the last two years I’ve seen most of it. I love to spend time with my LWML Rocky Mountain sisters but the travel was grueling at times. Life was so busy! I couldn’t wait to invite you to come away from your busy lives to the mountains and BE STILL. Suddenly, as we made final preparations for the Keystone Convention, the world changed. Everything came to a standstill. We were all still. I went from traveling thousands of miles to never leaving my home. And suddenly, I had time on my hands. My overcommitted calendar was clear. What now? 

Did you go from a crazy busy life to stillness and isolation too? Did you struggle with uncertainty and anxiety like I did? How did you cope?

I found myself reaching for my Bible and praying frequently. I began journaling and coloring in my Bible. I was searching for peace, comfort, and connection in the middle of chaos. I kept coming back to those verses in Thessalonians. REJOICE ALWAYS. Was I living that life or just saying the words? Always? How could I rejoice always in the midst of global pandemic. How could I give thanks when so many of my plans were being ripped to shreds? It was, and continues to be, a struggle. How do we manage it? How do we hang on to our joy in the midst of sorrow, struggle, fear, anger, oppression, racism, protests, politics, and chaos?

By praying without ceasing and relying on the promises of God. This time of quarantine has given me time—time to reflect and reassess the priorities in my life. That has been a blessing. I have been striving to stay connected with others. Time online in Bible study and watching pastors in our district lead Bible study, devotions, and worship—this has allowed me to be connected even while isolated. Another blessing. More time immersed in Scripture. Another blessing. Technology that allowed us to gather together for a Convention while staying apart. Blessing upon blessing.

We can give thanks even in the midst of a global pandemic. How? Because we have a God who is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We can rely on Him and BE STILL. He is still in control, no matter what we see around us.

Although the 1 Thessalonians verses continue to be important to me personally, I wanted to find scripture verses for the next biennium that were focused on our mission as the LWML Rocky Mountain District. How do we stay connected while we are apart? How do we continue to focus on missions, caring, and supporting each other, when we can’t meet? How can we be thankful when we are scared and worried? I don’t have all the answers but we can start by allowing the word of God to dwell in us. Here are the verses I’ve chosen for the next biennium:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16–17)

What a great reminder of how we should live as sisters in Christ. Who are we? We are Lutheran Women in Mission. I found this statement on the LWML website. The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) is an official auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. For over 77 years, the LWML has focused on affirming each women’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and to support global missions.

This is who we are. Women in the word, united in purpose to serve. Over the next two years the LWML Rocky Mountain District will face many challenges and many opportunities to live out our faith. As our new Executive Committee gathers to plan for the biennium, we will renew our focus on Bible study and devotions, including online Bible study, and to nurturing our relationships with each other. We want to build an LWML Rocky Mountain online community. We will meet in person when we can but the cancellation of our in-person convention forced us to connect in new and different ways. I want to stay connected and reach even more women in our district with the word of Christ.

Thank you to all that participated in our first-ever virtual convention. It was a wonderful time of celebration and community. Almost every conversation I have these days seems to end with “Stay Safe.” I pray that you are all safe and I also pray that you “Stay in the Word.” We can trust in God and find joy and peace in Him — no matter what.

Debbie Yocky