What if it was really true that Jesus reigns? What if it was really true that Jesus died […]
We all look with a wary yet hopeful eye toward the future. We hear about the phased plan for reopening our state, for starting the great engine of our nation’s economy again. Every scheduled press conference gives us the promise of some sort of resolution, a way forward. Now these conferences do not seem to usually play out that way. They are often filled with extremely vague and elusive statements and the way forward, the way out of this crisis, the way back to some sort of normalcy is not very clear. We all want it. We all would be doing a lot better if there was a real plan with real dates with predictable results, but we just cannot seem to get there.
While people are scrambling to cancel everything to avoid spreading this damned disease, pastors and laypeople are debating whether or not cancelling an in-person church service is wise or even faithful. First of all, and most wonderfully, no one, no disease, no calamity, no Devil or demons can cancel Jesus or His Church. He reigns just as powerfully and affectively as ever!
In 1940 after France surrendered and Germany appeared to be on its way to conquering all of Europe if not the globe, Winston Churchill gave one of the world’s greatest speeches. He concluded, “Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
One of the things we can all learn from this pandemic is how insanely connected our world is. An outbreak in Wuhan China can spread with frightening speed around the globe, shutting down whole countries and grinding international commerce to a halt. It is commerce that we need, commerce that plays with the stock market, which plays with our retirement plans, which effects our stress levels, which causes anxiety and fear. So, we stay home, but in staying home we fail to read a book or play card games with the family, no we turn on the internet and read the global news as we text our friends and facetime with our family members. We are bound up in the lives of others in ways never imagined a decade or so ago. We are more connected, more dependent, more aware of a world far outside of ourselves than ever before.
How did I end up here? Both criminals might have wondered that. As they hung on a cross at the end of their rope. No more escape routes, no more lying about where they had been or who they were with. No more talking their way out of things. It is over. They are judged. It is obvious to all. They are going to die as criminals.
It’s nothing new, we all have felt the war between what we know is true from the words of God and what the culture says is good and right. Most of the time though it doesn’t affect us directly, usually it is just those other people out there doing something we totally disapprove of. But every once in a while, this battle starts stirring in our own home, among the people we love, even right in the eyes of the little people we’ve known from their first breath.
When I came out of Seminary I was a staunch liturgical dude. Don’t need no screens or even printed out service. The organ will do just fine. I got myself some incense and added a chasuble to my fine wardrobe. I wore my collar almost every day.
In the middle of the night, that’s when I fear unlove. Whatever light shone during the day, its not guaranteed that it will come back again in the morning. I wonder on my pillow if I did the right thing, said enough words, made my warmth accessible enough to you. I wonder in the darkness if you will be kind to my vulnerability, patient with my emotions, present in the raw moments.
The bookstores are full of books on prayer. When the pastor conducts a survey for possible Bible study topics, one of them is bound to be prayer. And why not? Praying seems to be the thing to do in the Bible, Christianity and all religions. Jesus prayed.