March 19, 2020
To view the Facebook video of this Fireside Chat, click on:
Welcome to you from the Fireside Room at Immanuel of Almelund. This fireside seemed like a good place to meet you with you a word of hope.
As we are dealing with the Coronavirus, many unusual steps have been taken to try to keep this illness from spreading faster than our medical community can deal with it.
We have had to close our doors to in-person worship services. This feels very strange, especially during Lent. But we haven’t closed our hearts or our minds or our souls to God or to one another. God is closer than our very breath. God knows all that is going on and is loving us and supporting us through it.
At times like this it is all the more important to reach out to family and friends in mutual support. We are fortunate to have phones and email and Facebook that allow us to be connected with one another even when we can’t be together in person.
You may find yourself at home, unable to go to work or school. You may find yourself worried about your health or that of loved ones. You may find yourself worried about the economy and what this means for your job, or your retirement savings, or whether you’ll have access to basic necessities you need.
Hear these words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew the 6th chapter:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Today’s trouble IS enough for today. Although it is human nature to worry, worrying doesn’t do any good. We don’t have to worry because we have a God who is in control. We can bring our worries to God and know that God answers our prayers.
Although we have not faced a pandemic like this before, God’s people through the ages have lived through times of plagues and pandemic. It is good to know that God’s got this. God is at work this very moment bringing good from this adversity.
Satan: “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic.
I will shut down business, schools, places of worship and sports events.
I will cause economic turmoil.
Jesus: “I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit. I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table.
I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters.
I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world.
I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.
Look for the blessings that come from this disruption. God is at work in those.
There have been a few times in my life when I have experienced what I have come to think of as “Holy Time Out.” These are times when the path I was on suddenly came to a halt and forced me to slow down. One Holy Time Out came when I was pregnant for our daughter. Due to some complications with the pregnancy I was put on bed rest for a few months.
What a shock to the system! It came just before Christmas. All the busy preparations for Christmas came to a screeching halt. Rather than buying presents and making food, it gave me time to read books like What to Expect when You’re Expecting. It gave me time to think about what it meant to be a good mother and to prepare myself for that important role. Rather than decorating the house and attending holiday parties, it gave me the time to pray and journal and refocus my attention on the things that mattered most as I was entering this new phase of life.
As a nation and a world, it seems we have been given a Holy Time Out. Rather than doing all the busy things that have been taking our time and attention, we are given a time to be at home, to spend time with our families, and to spend time with God. Rather than going here and there we are told to stay put, to stop all the busyness and attend to the business that matters most – our relationship with the people in our lives and with God.
Make good use of this Holy Time Out. It’s not going to last forever. Use it while you’ve got it. Look for the blessings in it. It is not that often that you have the opportunity to slow down, and to rethink how you are spending your time and your life, and to refocus. Now is a time to do that. This is a gift. Think carefully about how God wants you to use this gift of time. Try to set the worries aside and lean into the gift that this Holy Time Out offers you and your family.
Throughout the time when we are not able to meet together in person, I will be posting messages on my Facebook page, Immanuel’s Facebook page and on Immanuel’s website. Please share them with others who you know would like to hear them. Momoh and I are planning to lead a virtual worship experience this weekend. Watch Facebook and our website for that.
At this time, I’d like to close with a prayer and then invite you to join with me in praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God!