There is a popular Christian Worship Song called "Waymaker" (I love this version by Paul McClure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHoGEDQQ67o ) that I've been hearing and listening to for a few years now.
A few weeks ago I hit a low spot, emotionally. We were a few weeks in to Quarantine and I was missing my friends and family. I had just returned from the funeral of my beloved Grandma Betty who we had to lay to rest with only a few family and friends and I couldn't even hug my siblings or parents due to social distancing rules. I came home and I needed to do something, so I went out to mow the yard (sometimes helps me think). As I mowed I put this song on repeat. I mowed row by row and listened to these words over and over again.
"Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness...that is who You are!"
You see, even in our darkest and hardest moments, God is still there.
Even in our sadness, God is unchanged.
Even when we feel lost or broken, God is still working.
Even when we see no light, God is still with us.
In this season where we sometimes feel lost and the sadness sets in...our God has not changed. He is still the waymaker. He is still the miracle worker. He is still the promise keeper. He is still our light in the darkness.
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."
There are many phrases that have become common during this COVID 19 crisis including one I hear a lot, "social distancing". I have to be honest, I kind of hate this term. I believe that we do need to give ourselves 6 (or more) feet between people right now to help slow the spread of germs; but I wish they had used a different phrase. I prefer the term "physical distancing" rather than social. Maybe i am nitpicking here, but I think this matters.
Even in Genesis, in the very beginning, we see that "man was not meant to be alone" and this is true throughout the Bible and true in life still today. People are social creatures. We crave friendship, love, intimacy and human contact. So while I agree that we need to keep distance between ourselves physically, I hope we don't avoid socializing (in safe ways) with others.
Over the past month I have used phone calls, zoom meetings, Facetime, writing letters and safe distance visits to help keep myself feeling connected with others who I love. I have had friends drop off treats at my house...all in an effort to keep our bonds of love strong during a hard time.
So by all means, keep physical distance from others as a safeguard, but don't cut off social relationships...just find new ways to socialize safely. Remember that God made you with a desire for human relationships and work, in new and creative ways, to maintain those relationships.
Let's work to have "social closeness" while we maintain "physical distance."
I don't remember the Blizzard of '78, I was only a baby, but I have seen pictures and heard stories about it. My dad talks about weeks off of school and work while people dug out and recovered. I am sure this closed churches for a time; but the thing with a blizzard is that the end is always in sight...you know that eventually it will warm up and the snow will melt and life will go back to normal.
A blizzard is different than a winter though. A blizzard is a one time event while a winter (especially a cold one) is a season of life that might last for a while. But even with a winter, we can prepare. We know roughly when it will start (late November or early December) and when it will end (March) and so we know to buy supplies like salt or shovels. Even a season has an end we can plan on.
But this event, the COVID 19 crisis, isn't much like a blizzard or even a winter...but more like an ice age. An ice age starts unexpectedly and its ending is undefined. It might last a few years or decades or centuries. It lasts long enough that the people and animals have to learn to adapt to a "new normal" not just a gap in their everyday lives. This crisis is starting to seem like an ice age.
I don't know when this crisis will end. I don't know when we will be able to have church again. I have heard estimates from a few weeks or months and some say all the way until September until it might be safe to meet in our building again as we used to! Wow! So what do we do?
1. Be patient. The board and I will work to make sure that we make the best decision to keep people safe AND feed people spiritually.
2. Learn to live in a new normal. This means making your own spiritual health a priority. In the past we may have gone to the church building for our "weekly fill up" and now we need to learn to feed ourselves to a certain extent. Read your Bible regularly. Pray often. Spend time (virtually maybe) with others to encourage and pray for each other. And yes, make online worship a priority each week as we still try (in new and creative ways) to teach and worship God together.
3. Show Grace!! This season is stressful. Some of us are lonely, some are overwhelmed, some are struggling financially, some are stressed about health...but almost nobody is immune from the effects of this crisis. So show some grace to your kids who are driving you nuts. Show some grace to your spouse who is off their normal routine. Show some grace to each other as we may be easily frustrated right now. And show some grace to yourself as you may be stressed even more than you realize.
And let me know, as your Pastor, what I can do to be helpful. If you need food, toilet paper, prayer or just to talk. Feel free to connect and see how the church can help.
God bless you all,
When I was about 6 or 7 years old my parents set up an Easter Egg Hunt in our house on Easter morning. This was a tradition at our home and one we looked forward to. I was so excited to
A) beat my siblings by getting more eggs
B) eat candy till I felt sick
So when we woke up, I rushed downstairs to eat breakfast quickly and then get my egg hunt on. Once my parents said go, we raced around the house looking for eggs, shoving them in our baskets and then heading for the living room where we could count our winnings.
But as I sat down to count I noticed the eggs were making more noise than normal; which I thought was odd, a rattling noise. I opened the first egg to find one single penny. I opened another egg, another penny. I opened egg after egg after egg and all I found were pennies. I looked up at my father, who was holding the family video camera, and said "Pennies!?!? This is the worst Easter ever!"
In truth, sometimes this feels like the worst Easter ever. We wont' have our normal church services with all our church family and many guests. We won't get to dress our kids up in cute outfits or see some of our ladies wear special hats. We won't get to gather together with family around a big table full of food and we won't get to participate in egg hunts and other special Easter traditions. In fact, it hardly feels like Easter at all.
And yet, the grave is still empty. The stone is still rolled away. Jesus is still alive and we still have hope.
Christians are Easter people. We are resurrection people. We are people who have learned (sometimes the hard way) that we should never give up because God is always in control no matter how dark the night may be.
It's still Easter because Jesus is still King!
During this time of social distancing and self quarantine (phrases that have suddenly become common in our society), many of us feel isolated and alone, especially those of us who live alone or just with our spouse this can be a time of loneliness or even boredom. Many of us have been cut off from our social support systems like church, work, going out to eat or just hanging out with friends. Many of us have been holed up in our homes for days or weeks and though we have phones, social media and trv to stay in touch with the world; it just isn't the same. I've spoken with many of our older members who feel alone or even bored during these strange days.
It got me thinking about someone in the Bible who was isolated, even more than us right now. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and spent three days totally alone (he didn't even have facebook to scroll or cable news to watch)...and yet, he quickly realized he was not alone at all; he had God with him. Jonah spent his isolated time in prayer and I thought maybe his prayer would be helpful to you today.
"To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple" Jonah 2:6-7
The good news from Jonah is that no matter where you are (even the belly of a fish or your living room), God is with you. The church was never a building, it was always the people of God. So when Jonah tells us that his prayer rose to the temple of God it was because God is ALWAYS on the throne no matter where we are or who we are with.
God is with you today. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. We are the church, we will always be the church, and our prayers are still rising to the throne of God from our isolation or our self quarantine...He hears you, He sees you, He loves you.
P.S.. During these days, if you are in need of help, prayer, food, toilet paper...please let us know so that we can care for you or connect with you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can bless you!