Today, when you read about the health and financial crisis due to the Coronavirus, remember that many real individuals are living with the consequences. Whether through illness or job loss or receiving a drastic reduction in your retirement benefits. Health and financial crisis means tough times for most and tragedy for others.
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?
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.
Isaiah 6 reminds us: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (6:8) We all have our opportunities to serve God in a variety of ways. But some of those ways involve possible hardship, sacrifice and danger. May the rest of us stand ready to offer encouragement and support.
Each person faced multiple problems of low income, attending school, leading a church, maintaining a family life and trying to spend personal time with God. In any other profession, this would be a formula for disaster. Yet, each one was passionate about the future and their relationship with God.
For many, Jesus doesn’t seem that close anymore. Are people attending church to celebrate the birth of Jesus or merely out of habit? As pastors, are we still excited about the God who called us into ministry or are we preparing our professionally organized message with all the right words but none of the passion?
The stress and burdens of day-to-day living often become a long line of real-life suitcases. We can carry two or three, maybe even six or seven but as stress and burdens increase, our capacity to carry the load diminishes. Eventually, we must ask for help. Christmas can bring additional stress and burdens to an already full load.
“Confess and Repent?” What a depressing way to think about Christmas. Aren’t those terms outdated? Today we prefer: Codependency, Dysfunctional, Fetish, Psychosis, Neurosis and other fancy sounding names. Why go back in time? Yet every year during Christmas and Easter, pastors talk about a prophet named John the Baptist and his emphasis on confession and repentance. Why?