March 31, 2020

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This months Website is 

sponsored by

Gregg & Deb Griewski

in

Memory of 

Sam & Verna Goetz

 

If you would like to sponsor a month

contact the office.

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Ash Wednesday Service

Please join us at 7:00 pm for Ash Wednesday Service.

Last week's Sermon

March 15, 2020

  

John 11:1-45

“Hope in the midst of uncertainty”

“Ahh, but we were living in strange times. Strange and turbulent times. Roman rulers, Roman taxes, all making for a very anti-Roman sentiment. Israelites revolts! Some wanting only to live in peace with Rome, some wanting nothing short of complete freedom from Rome. It was hard to know which side to stay with. And then, this man, this Jesus, came into our midst. From where? For what purpose? Even his followers were divided on those questions.”


What I just read comes from the script of the Last Supper portrayal that we have presented over the past several years on Maundy Thursday. It is the script that attempts to imagine what it would have been like for those who came into contact with Jesus back in that time. The small part that I just read is imagined to be the voice of the householder where Jesus held his Last Supper with his disciples in that upper room. It is the part that I have read over the past several years.


“Ahh, but we were living in strange times. Strange and turbulent times.” It is a phrase that has been going through my mind for the past several days. We are living in strange times. Strange and turbulent times. We might not be under siege from a foreign country, but we are under siege from a pandemic that is very foreign to us. We have never gone through anything like this in our country. We do not know how to react. We have reactions that range from fear and doom and gloom to the casual, it’s no big deal. We do not know who or what to believe.


In a matter of just three weeks we have gone from, do not gather in large crowds, to do not gather with more than twenty, to no more than ten, to stay at home unless it is a necessity to go out. Four weeks ago, most of us probably had never heard the phrase “social distancing” and now it is the catch phrase of society today. Our world and our lives are in the midst of change and uncertainty. This change and uncertainty can raise a whole lot of questions, anxiety and fear, along with a whole mix of other emotions.


This is some of what Martha was experiencing when she ran out to meet Jesus. The questions: Why did you linger when you knew your friend was sick and you could have healed him? Isn’t my brother’s life more important than an object lesson to strengthen the faith of others? Where were you when we needed you? After this, can we depend on you in the future?


The fear and the anxiety brought on by the reality that life was quickly changing for her and her sister Mary. As the only male of the household, her brother Lazarus was the sole provider for the family. There was the uncertainty of who would fulfill that role as the family provider. There was anxiety of how they would survive with that loss of income. She was heart-broken. She was afraid. She was angry. The life that she had known previously had died with her brother.


Into this anger, fear, anxiety, and questioning, we here the words of Jesus followed by his own question. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"


In Jesus’ statement to Martha, we hear another one of Jesus’ “I AM” proclamations connecting Jesus directly with God. People such as physicians might be able to heal, but only God can give life.


We are living in strange times. Strange and turbulent times. It is a time of great uncertainty. Life as we know it is changing. It has been turned upside down, mixed up, rearranged, and what it will look like when we come out on the other end is unknown. Life, at some point, will get back to normal. It will most likely be a new normal that does not look like the normal we experienced before the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, but it will get back to normal …at some point.


Until then, we will have to learn how to muddle through the best we can. We will have to figure out how to continue to live our lives somewhere between the fear and anxiety that paralyzes us and the arrogance and disregard that puts ourselves and others at risk. Until then, out of compassion for our loved ones and respect for the strangers, we must take seriously the advice of those in the medical field by limiting our contact with others as best we can and honoring social distancing.


Until then, we are still called to be the Church. We will just have to learn to be the Church in new and creative ways. We will have to learn new ways to be in community with one another separately. Compassion is not restricted to the confines of the church walls. We can use this experience of social distancing as a time to become more aware of others and their needs. We can remember those who are shut-in. Call them just to chat. Check to see if there is anything they might need. We can check on those who might be struggling with greater anxiety or depression because of a feeling of greater isolation. We can take this time to learn what it means to look beyond ourselves to the needs and concerns of others. We can use this time of social distancing as a time to bring us more together as community …as a people, even as we stay separate.


With every challenge there comes with it an opportunity …an opportunity to become something better than we currently are. We can take this opportunity to become better at living as a Church. As the Church, we can be leaders of examples as to what it might look like to live in these strange and turbulent times. We can show that social distancing does not mean self-centering on oneself and focusing only on one’s needs. We can show what it means to replace arrogance with humility, self-centeredness with respect, hatred with compassion, and what it really means to love as Jesus calls us to love.


Mostly, as the Church we can bring a message of hope. What Martha needed most in her anger, sorrow, anxiety, and fear was to hear a word of hope. Not only did Jesus bring her a word of hope, Jesus was the Word of hope. “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Martha, do you believe that. Her response was a proclamation of faith, “Yes Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”


Yes, life as we know it, is changing. It might even feel like our normal way of living is dying. In Jesus Christ, we have learned that new life can come, even out of death. That is our hope. That is the message of hope we can bring. That is the hope that we can live.


Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life. Do you believe that?” The question is put before us. If we answer, “Yes,” then we are called to live as resurrection people. We are called to live in faith and hope of a God who can bring new life, even in strange and turbulent times. Amen.