Dear friends throughout our circuit,
March 14, 2020
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is a unique Sabbath experience in which we find ourselves separated physically but thank God not spiritually apart as we are one in Him. The cycle of our lives has been interrupted in ways we could not imagine just a week or two ago. Whatever may come of the COVID-19 Virus saga this is a historical first in collective global action to thwart a threatening pandemic. We are experiencing an action or reaction to illness that may set a new precedent as to how society will move forward in a collective manner previously unheard. We are experiencing history in the making. Will this call to action to battle this virus pass in a couple of weeks or a couple of months? I simply don’t know and neither do you, but I wanted to share some thoughts as a shepherd of a scattered flock on this Sabbath day and direct our attention to our Heavenly Father and that Great Shepherd of the Sheep–Jesus the Christ.
Before I share some Scriptures and additional thoughts allow me to share this. This morning I was catching up on the latest news on my computer in my easy chair and spotted a You Tube clip of Italians singing to one another in the city of Siena. As you may have heard Italy is basically double-locked down as a society due to being the European epi-center regarding the COVID- 19 Virus. The short video shows a darkened narrow street in which you begin to hear one by one neighbors singing together from their balconies and open windows (so Italian!) to let the others know that they are not alone! Watch and listen please: HERE
Likewise, we read God’s Holy Word to know we are not alone. And, by living faith we truly believe that “the Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want” (Psalms 23:1) whether with this current scenario we are collectively experiencing or with individual challenges we are facing seemingly alone. It’s also “so very Christian” to raise song in praise to God in times of challenge. I am mindful of what I often share with you when we have hymn sings that covenant people sing to God in times of plenty and in times of need. I often remind us of how Paul and Silas sang while in prison in Ephesus as described in Acts 16:24-25: “Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” You’ve got to smile. Their first action was to look UP, share their inner song in the dark, and encourage others. Singing is not just for Italians who do it wonderfully, but it’s for all of us.
For just a few moments from my balcony (actually my office, but—) I would like to open the window of email to you and share a few songs of praise to God in a world that is increasingly darkened and so many feel alone, simply cutoff. Hopefully these following words I share now will firm up our hearts even when our knees may get shaky, so that you will be reminded and fortified and others will come to know—-we are not alone! So here I go along with Paul and Silas, our Italian friends, and you—and most importantly our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ–after all these are Their words.
Psalms 46:10- “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted above the nations, , I will be exalted in the earth.”
Isaiah 40:28-31- “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength Even the youths shall faint, and not be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Psalms 139:7-12- “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell (the grave), behold You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even here Your hand shall lead me. And Your right hand shall hold me. IF I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even then night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
Psalms 121:4- “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
John 14:27-“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Matthew 6:25:33- “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more cloth you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry saying, “What shall we eat, or What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For our Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Philippians 4:7-8- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made know to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.”
After World War Two, Victor Frankel, concentration camp survivor and psychologist, wrote the following in his epic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
We have choices as to how to confront experiences that we never thought would come our way, but if they did–surely, they wouldn’t happen to us! Well think again and recognize we do have a choice as to how we will weather that which comes our way. Choices to look UP rather than get stuck down here below. Choices like Paul and Silas and our Italian friends to reach out to others as God first reached out to us in time of need and uncertainty.
Well, I’ve sung my song. Time to close my window. But before I do, allow me as your pastor, your shepherd, and fellow sojourner on the path of life to commit you wherever you are and whatever you are going through right now into very special hands and hearts: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Yours in Christ, now and always, Robin and Susan