God Is Present
There is no way around it, we are living in a world beset by crisis. We are all inundated with news of the corona virus pandemic. It has changed the way we interact with other people. It has brought fear into our social and economic lives. We seem to be caught up in the midst of one of those disaster movies. But this is nothing new because there is always a natural or man-made disaster looming over us: wars, earthquakes, flooding, global warming, or the opioid crisis. The main difference is that covid 19 is affecting the whole world at once, or at least in a wave of disease with everyone at risk.
So how are people of faith to respond? The same way we always have—by trusting in God. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God was with the Hebrew people when He ordered them to “shelter in place” during the plague of death in Egypt. God used that time to let the people know He was with them, and the Egyptians became generous to them when they left Egypt. God provided them with food and water in the wilderness, when none seemed available. Some of the springs God opened then continue to provide water today. God was with the Jewish people in their exile in Babylon, and indeed used that time to build up new forms of worship that we still use today, and to spread the people throughout the known world where they introduced many people to the God of Israel. God was with Jesus on the cross, even when he didn’t sense God’s presence, and used that event to bring salvation to the world. God was with Stephen as he was stoned, and used the persecution that was then started to scatter Christians through the known world when they had been content to stay in Jerusalem.
God has always been present in the midst of crises, and has promised to bring good out of every situation, including the corona virus. The death toll is terrible, yet it is causing us to think of others by avoiding contact with them to prevent further spread of the virus. We as a church are being forced to do things like offering a way of donating to the church on our website: experts have been urging this for years, but we haven’t done it until now. We are also exploring the possibility of putting sermons or other messages of hope on line. Again, this is something we have been urged to do for years, but are now doing out of necessity. One thing we have been doing all along is the food pantry, but now we are seeing an increased volume of those in need of this assistance. God is stirring people up to acts of kindness and generosity for their neighbors I would encourage all of you to check our church website AztecMethodist.org for updates on where we are.
I would urge all of you to take care of yourself. Keep washing your hands. Keep six feet away from other people when possible. Take time out from the relentless Covid-19 news. Instead focus on positive thoughts, such as the beauty of the spring season. At the parsonage the apricot tree is in full bloom (probably too early like usual). The grass is greening up, and the peonies are sprouting as are the day lilies and the daffodils. Sunrises and sunsets are still often beautiful. Acts of kindness abound in the midst of disaster.
Lent is a time for introspection. Now many who are staying at home have the extra time they need. But most of all we need to unite in prayer. One group is urging everyone in the nation to spend 15 minutes in prayer each day at 7:00 pm Mountain Standard Time. Pray for a quick end to this epidemic. Pray for God to be with all who are sick. Pray for guidance for our leaders, and an end to the partisan bickering.
We may or may not be able to hold in person worship on Palm Sunday, Good Friday or Easter, but we can worship in our homes, meditating on the scriptures for the day, or singing hymns as a family, or lighting a candle to remind ourselves that Christ is still the light of the world in the midst of the darkness of global illness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.