Hello Church family, this is Pastor Phil!
I wanted to share with you some of the stories I heard this week talking to you on the phone and text messaging. For most of you, I heard you’re just staying in place, spending extra time with family in your home. Many of you are working from home right now, but there’s also a bunch of our church family that have had to self-quarantine because they weren’t feeling well but weren’t in a group that was not eligible to get tested. Like me, I was running a low-grade fever this week, my asthma was kicking up, and I was feeling really fatigued, but my doctor just told me to stay in and wait 7 days after my symptoms cleared before going out. I heard from the health care workers in our church family who are working so hard just to do their jobs and take care of other people. Please keep them in your prayers because people going to the hospital are scared and, sometimes, they’re taking that out on our health care workers.
I also heard from many of you that you are taking this opportunity to spend more focused time on your faith, from prayer and personal devotion to singing hymns and praise songs at home. I heard from some of our members most vulnerable to this virus, and they are healthy and doing well. I have heard from pretty much everyone how much we miss being in worship together and being able to be in our church family house. Thank you for sharing all of your stories with me this week. If we didn’t get to talk yet, please give me a call or text; I’d love to connect with you.
Even if I can’t see you, it’s good to be able to share God’s Word with you and some hopefulness and security in this tim-[?.=0e of change.
As my family has gone through this week of quarantine, I find that I’ve become more hopeful about the situation and, not only knowing, but feeling like this wasn’t going to last forever. On the medical front it looks like there are some promising drug combinations out there that have may really do some good in treating those that are infected with this new virus. I’ve also been encouraged by how many people are self-quarantining and listening to the federal guidelines. From what I’ve heard, it is making an overall difference in the spread of the disease.
I found myself watching the news and checking online for any new stories or updates about what was happening and how things were progressing. I felt myself feel more positive when good news came through and then, when there wasn’t any news or the news wasn’t as good, I felt myself feel negative and get down. Pretty soon, all of those ups and downs not only could, but were, starting to make me feel a little bit crazy.
That is because there is a difference between using the gifts that God has given to us and putting our hope in them.
When we look at the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed, we’re reminded that our Heavenly Father has given to us very good and wise, earthly and material gifts to manage and deal with troubles in life.
Listen to what the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed says-
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
And then a part of Martin Luther’s explanation of what this means.
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.
As Christians we read these words and are reminded that the tools we have in this life to work, live and learn with–like our reason and intellect, our senses and how we physically interact in this world, the tools of scientific study and medicine, even the tool of social distancing and self-quarantine–all of these things are good gifts from our Heavenly Father and tools for us to use and work with to combat things like viruses and illnesses in this material world. But all of these material tools are finite and frail, limited and corrupted by our disobedience and selfish hearts, prone to also fail us or not be as good as they could be. They are gifts to be used, absolutely, but our hope does not rest in the material and creaturely gifts that our Heavenly Father has given to us, though they are very good gifts from God and here for our use, but our hope rests in the Creator of all of those good gifts and his unending love for us.
We know that not only will this material world come to an end, but our own lives will come to an end as well, whether it be in the short term or the long term, we don’t know. It is good and right to use all of the gifts that God has given to us to preserve life and home as much as we can, but we do this knowing ultimately our life is found in our Heavenly Father. Our life found here on earth will end, then our life will be found in Heaven with our Heavenly Father, and then that life will be found forever with our Heavenly Father when He makes all things new. We are given the guarantee of that life with God in the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, who shows us that no matter what happens, when our hope and life is held by our Heavenly Father’s hands, it is always secure.
So, as Christians, we use the good, creaturely, and material gifts God has given to us, especially to preserve home and life as much as we can and is within our power, but we do not place our hope in those things. We hope only in our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ who will hold us safe with Him, through whatever this life brings.