This coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday which we celebrate each year on the first Sunday in October. Can you believe it is already October? Even in this extremely strange pandemic year of 2020, we can still gather to celebrate our unity in Christ, but online rather than in person. You are invited to view this year’s San Francisco Presbytery World Communion Virtual Worship Service rather than another message from me. I hope you will view this service with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the Bay Area.
On Monday I emailed you a letter from my favorite spiritual writer, Father Richard Rohr. In it he offered Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months of pandemic, political dysfunction, social protest, natural disasters, and fighting over the Supreme Court.
I think his words are so on target and wise that for my message today I will just read them to you. Please listen and heed his words. In upcoming messages I will develop this Fall’s Stewardship theme: Survive to Thrive. I am confident that with God’s help we will not only survive these difficult times, but once again we will thrive in our vitality, mission, and service.
So invite you now to sit back and listen for God’s Word to you today, as God’s speaks through Father Richard Rohr, who offers Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months
We are now in our 29th week of living through this time of pandemic, six months! Over this long time, each week I have been sharing with you various tools from scripture to help us get through this very challenging time – things like faith, hope, love, spirit, patience, strength, endurance, persistence, rest.
Now as we enter this fall season, we are still physical distancing as we wait for a Covid 19 vaccine. But even as we wait, we are planning for the time when we can resume in person worship and fellowship. And we look forward to 2021 with hope.
So this Sunday you will hear from the chair of our 2021 stewardship campaign, Harold Helm, as we begin to plan our congregation’s life and mission when we all emerge from this pandemic. And I am confident that we will. Our stewardship theme is SURVIVE TO THRIVE. With your help, we will indeed survive and thrive in 2021.
REST is this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic. Last week we looked at the importance of persistence in doing what is right (Galatians 6:9). But our life is more than what we do, and our labor must be balanced with needed rest. So this week we look at Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to come to him to find rest for our souls.
A few days ago, I came across this excerpt from a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier that encourages this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic: PERSISTENCE. In Luke 11:5-11, Jesus taught about persistence in prayer, and Galatians 6:9 encourages us to be persistent in our actions: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.”
This week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic is PRAYER. Scripture is full of many prayers and admonitions to pray. But this week we will focus on two passages, Luke 11:1-4, where Jesus gives his disciples the model prayer that we know as “the Lord’s Prayer,” and Romans 8:26-27 where the apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit helps us pray when we don’t know how to pray as we ought. With the help of Jesus and the Spirit of God, we can all grow in prayer.
In 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 the apostle Paul shares about the many struggles and hardships that he has been through, and how God has seen him through, granting him this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic: CONSOLATION. When we have been through tough times, we can help others who are struggling through similar events, becoming what Henri Nouwen called, “wounded healers.”
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?