What is happening in Italy today could be happening in the United States tomorrow. COVID-19 is not overblown but a genuine crisis impacting our community, our country and our world. How should we as Christians and as the church respond? How can we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ and be the light of the world?
It took me awhile to understand this refers to more than “who gets the best seats in church.” A subtle way to ignore the needs of the poor is to just avoid meaningful contact: “You can stand over there or else sit on the floor” can also mean, “You can live on the other side of town.” There is a word for ignoring the needs of the poor… Sin! How can we claim faith in Christ if we judge those in poverty?
When reading this story, you tend to think about money. If the story is only about money, the widow is the perfect giver. Not content to give God her leftovers, she gives it all. Giving generously is important. But Jesus is teaching a far deeper lesson. Jesus said: They have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she has given everything.
In other words, Lent is an opportunity to pause from the intensity of daily living and reflect on the meaning of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Sounds simple enough but I often come up short. The following prayer by Robin Van Cleef describes the difficulties of attempting to deepen your spiritual life.
Within a few short hours, we had a cluster of houses with clean driveways. More importantly, neighbors started crossing over to visit and say thanks. Soon people were going back and forth giving away cookies, coffee, soup and whatever was needed. Others started coming outside to talk and play in the snow.
If worry is poison, faith is God’s antidote. The stronger our faith, the less we worry. How? We stop depending on ourselves and learn to seek God’s will. We spend more time on our knees in prayer. A friend once told me: “Larry, rather than worry all night, wouldn’t it be smarter to pray half the night and then sleep comfortably until morning?” Sound advice.
The ad promised: “35 flavors of milk shakes.” So, my wife and I decided to drive to the curb-side service restaurant and order hot dogs and milk shakes. My milkshake was peanut butter, chocolate fudge. Perfect, even on a cold wintry day. After the server delivered the order to our car, we noticed several empty tables, so we decided to enjoy our meal outside.
2020 started fast and furious with one crisis following another. Devastating fires throughout Australia. A series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Potential war with Iran. Continuing Impeachment drama in our country. The United Methodist Church I love and serve is likely splitting into two denominations over LGBTQ+ issues. In addition, my community and people in the churches I serve experienced serious illness, emotional difficulties and heartache. It’s enough to ruin anyone’s attitude.