Who would have thought that it would come to this? I’m sure none of us expected 2020 to develop in the way that it has – and now, almost at the end of our Lenten season, we find ourselves in the midst of this pandemic with emergency measures in place – limiting public gatherings and all.
For many this will be a time of heightened anxiety. I certainly notice it when it venture out, in the way in which people carry themselves, distance themselves, even skittish in how they interact with others. You are not alone. News of COVID 19 makes any sane person a bit nervous.
At the same time, we are reminded that Jesus came to be our peace (Eph. 2:14) – both bridging the very divide between Creator and created in His own person by His very incarnation – but also, more than that. He came to enter into our deepest sorrow, our brokenness, our fears and wounds and even death, all to silence them and break them apart by His rising from the dead – all to give us life.
Peace, in biblical parlance, is far deeper than simple absence of war or conflict. We often get stuck with this kind of ‘political’ thinking that completely misses what Scripture is talking about. Peace – Shalom – is both unity among people – rooted fundamentally in forgiving grace – as well as restoration to wholeness – something that can only come from being reconnected and plugged back in to the very Lord of Life. This is what Jesus has come to both do and provide. This is what we get to share in through the Word and in the Sacraments so that ‘in Him’ – St. Paul’s good baptismal phrase – we have that fullness and wholeness and forgiveness and peace given and with us no matter what lemons life may hold.
As we draw our journey to the Cross on Good Friday to a close, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) who is the author and perfecter of our faith. He did this for you to win not only your salvation but to win you yourself for eternal life in heaven with Him. I will be offering these blog posts including short videos in order to help us all as we wrestle through this time in the life of the new Life that Jesus has given to us. It will allow us to get back to some of the basics – how to pray, how to wrestle with our anxieties and fears together with the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us in and through the Scriptures. How do I teach my kids to have faith? All, as we walk our way through these final days of Lent. You are invited to make use of these resources and share them with your friends.
In the meantime, Saint James is certainly not closed – even though we will be suspending our Sunday worship services to make sure that we are being responsible citizens during the COVID 19 crisis. Your pastors are still available for you to contact for emergencies, pastoral support, and prayer. We will be figuring out how to provide opportunities to offer the Lord’s Supper to our members in a responsible way as our Easter season quickly approaches. But we do ask that everyone honour the guidelines for social distancing, safe hygiene, isolation (especially for those at risk) and responsible care while this crisis is in place. At that same time, do also fulfill your Christian responsibility to encourage one another in that faith that we have received and be a little Christ to your neighbours to check in on them and help them as you are able.
The Lord our Triune God will see us through this difficult season. Remember His Cross, His Grace, and His Love which drove Jesus into death for you. Through baptism, we likewise share in the fullness and abundance of His Peace and His Life.
I leave this short prayer with you. It comes from the Middle Ages, but Martin Luther translated it to German and set it to music and Lutheran Christians have been singing it ever since. I can think of no better way to cry out the Lord during this time as we pray for one another, remembering our Lord of Life. God’s Peace be with you!
Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord; Peace in our time, O send us! For there is none on earth but You, None other to defend us. You only, Lord, can fight for us. Amen. (LSB 228)