This week’s Essential Tool for Living in a Time of Pandemic is COMPASSION. You are invited to prayerfully read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 in preparation, where Jesus looks at the crowds of struggling and hurting people with compassion. May we learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus and respond from a heart of compassion.
This week’s Essential Tool for Living in a Time of Pandemic is KINDNESS. You are invited to read and ponder Ephesians 4:29-32 and the poem Kindness by Naomi Shahab Nye During hard and challenging times, we need kindness more than ever.
Rick Oldenkamp is giving the message for this Sunday so I can spend some time with our newest grandchild, Johanna. Thank you Rick! His sermon topic is Essential Tools for Living in the Time of Pandemic — 10: LIFE. In preparation to hear God’s Word, read Genesis 2:4-7; John 1:1-5; and John 10:7-10. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” How do we nurture this life in our present challenging situation?
This week’s essential tool for living through a time of pandemic is ENDURANCE. I put off preaching on this essential tool for living because we naturally prefer that our life be smooth and easy, and this is a tool we need to get through hard times. Endurance is defined as: the power to withstand pain or hardships; the ability or strength to continue despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. Well we have plenty of adverse conditions in our life now and we need endurance to survive and even thrive. Where does the quality of endurance come from? And how can we get more, for ourselves and for other people who are struggling. I invite you to read and ponder Romans 5:1-5, especially v. 3 “suffering produces ENDURANCE.”
p.s. I am overjoyed to announce the birth of our 4th grandchild, Johanna June Hess, last Sunday in Fresno. She was 7 pounds 2 ounces and 19 ¾ inches. Pray for “endurance” for the parents, Nate and Elaine, and much joy and love.
One of the essential tools we definitely need for living through a time of pandemic and social protest is JOY. For it is joy that lightens our burdens and gives us the strength to keep going even when times are hard. (Endurance which we also need will be the explicit topic of an upcoming message). To hear God’s Word to us today, I invite you to prayerfully read and ponder Philippians 4:4-13, especially v. 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!”
FREEDOM is this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic. We all want to be free from constraints and free to be, but in today’s text from Galatians, chapter 5, the apostle Paul makes it clear that our freedom comes with responsibility and we must always exercise our freedom in love. Remember, “For freedom Christ has set us free. . . you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become servants of one another.” (Galatians 5:1, 13).
PATIENCE is this week’s Essential Tool for Living in a Time of Pandemic. We are all in a time of anxious waiting and need patience. Impatience leads us to take rash actions and make unwise decisions. Someone rightly said that “Patience is not just the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” Our scripture for this week is Psalm 40:1-4 and Ephesians 4:1-3. “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid. All things are passing. God alone never changes. Patience gains all things.”
TRUTH is this week’s Essential Tool for Living in a Time of Pandemic. It is up to all of us to combat the rampant “truth decay” in our culture. You are invited to read and ponder Ephesians 4:14-25, especially v. 15 “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way” and v. 25 “putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors.”
LOVE is this week’s Essential Tool for Living in a Time of Pandemic, to which we recently have added widespread social protest over racial injustice. In preparation you are invited to read and ponder some of the many scripture passages on the importance of love – Psalm 145:8-9, 1 John 4:7-12, Romans 13:8-10, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Following the example of Jesus, Paul, and Dr. King, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
In Romans chapter 12, vv. 9-21, the apostle Paul gives sound advice about how Christians are to conduct themselves in the world. I invite you to read this whole passage over carefully and prayerfully and then try to integrate these teachings into your current life. In my message this Sunday, I will be focusing in particular on v. 12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”We need hope to keep going in these challenging times. The good news is that we always have reasons for hope, because God in Christ is with us and for us!