Call to worship Let the morning bring word Of your unfailing love For I have put my trust in you Show me the way I should go For to you I lift up my soul Psalm 143:8 Weeping may last through the night But joy comes in the morning Psalm 30:5 God is our refuge and strength And ever-present help in trouble Therefore, we will not fear Though the earth give way and the mountains Fall into the sea.
The Lord's my Shepherd I'll not want He makes me down to lie in pastures green he leadeth me the quiet waters by My soul he doth restore again and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness even for his own name's sake Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale yet will I fear no ill for thou art with me and thy rod and staff me comfort still My table thou has furnished in presence of my foes my head thou dost with oil anoint and my cup overflows Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me and in God's house for evermore My dwelling place shall be
Prayer Compassionate God, you speak in many voices. You reveal yourself in a multitude of ways. Help us to experience your calming presence, be open to your gentle guidance and trust in our instincts when we feel you near. We pray in Jesus’ name.
I was reading an article in a conservative Christian newsletter entitled: Is COVID 19 a Biblical Plague?
Easy answer – no because it’s not in the bible.
More in-depth answer – it sure looks like the plagues in the bible.
There are two types of plagues in our sacred story. One that wipes out non-believers in order to save the believers – like the 10 plagues of Egypt. And One that decimates God’s own people. This type of plague is viewed as a judgement against sin.
This Conservative Christian article wasn’t willing to go there with COVID-19. It alluded to the fact that there is great sin in the world, but because COVID-19 isn’t picky about who it infects, believers and non-believers alike, their conclusion was that it can’t be a plague of biblical proportions.
However, it’s not the plagues themselves that intrigue me – it’s the outcome.
We know of the ten plagues of Egypt. In a particularly bad year, kind of like 2020, the people in the Nile delta suffered plague and pestilence; the water turned foul, perfect breeding ground for bugs; there were swarms of lice, flies, locusts. Frogs left the marshes and sought refuge in people’s homes and kitchens and beds. The bugs infected the cattle and brought on disease. But the story goes that from those plagues and the mass exodus that followed, a people were born, religion and a nation, which survived the destruction of Egypt’s corrupt society.
In the time of king David, a plague decimated his army when he was at the height of his military power. Humbled, David turned to spiritual strength rather than military strength to build his nation.
And I’ve spoken before about the transformations that have happened after the plagues in Europe – the Enlightenment, advances in medical technology, the beginning of the Protestant movement.
I was talking to my daughter-in-law the other day…we were having a deep conversation about how COVID 19 has affected my grandkids. They are the generation that will change our world. The kids locked away from their friends and school yards. Who learn by Zoom and Google Meet. Who have to entertain themselves. How will they transform the world?
I was thinking about the generation that went through the 1918 pandemic which killed as many people as the world war that was raging at the same time and then some. If you remember, that generation was called the “Roaring Twenties”. People went wild. There was an explosion of innovation, investment, money everywhere, skirts were shorter and the strict morals of the Victorian era tossed out the window. Life was great!
Until it wasn’t. All that money and investment was a false hope and generation that lived through the Great Depression were marked by hard work and frugality.
That is the way of the world. Life is great until it isn’t.
The constant in the sine wave that is how we live with all its ups and downs is God.
In times of tragedy and need, God’s people have turned to God for help. And help has come in many ways. One of them is the Psalms – the songs of our people who sang in times of trouble. The poems of leaders wrestling with what to do next. The hymns that we sing in our hearts to help us sleep.
God isn’t always a pillar of fire or a rainbow in the sky. Sometimes God is a few carefully chosen words that we turn to again and again.
So, I’ve asked you to bring today a few carefully chosen words. To share with us the ways that God shows up for you in words of comfort, and inspiration. The ways God gives you a little push to keep you moving forward rather than sinking into despair.
Here are words that have inspired me from a very young age:
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. Max Erhmann
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works thy hand hath made I see the starts, I hear the mighty thunder thy power throughout the universe displayed Then sings my soul my Saviour God to thee How great thou art, how great thou art… When through the woods and forest glades I wander I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim "My God, how great thou art."
Come O Holy Spirit set the church on fire. Strike it as the lightning hits a posing spire. Open up the structures that confine the flame of our work and worship Come in Jesus' name Refrain: Come, come, come in Jesus' name Take our hearts by storm All the world lies waiting Pentecost is now! Come, come, come in Jesus' name Take our hearts by storm All the world lies open Pentecost is now! Blow away the cobwebs of our stubborn past. Come, send flying from us myths unfit to last. Wind of change refresh us and disturb our calm. Teach us what true love is. Take our hearts by storm! Come O Holy Spirit, set your church on fire Blow away the virus That has made us dire Teach us new beginnings Lead us through the change Tell the world we're ready Come in Jesus' name!
Benediction May God heal us and others by the Spirit May God keep you and all you love safe May God lead you into new life Amen