Beloved People of God, These have been challenging days, to put it mildly. Our current anxiety challenges our faith and hope. We continue to struggle with the daily statistics that show an increasing number of COVID-19 related illnesses and deaths. We are all trying to discern what our new normal will be. We want to get out of the house, back to work, back to school, back to activities and back to CHURCH!
Throughout these days I’ve heard several comments and questions related to where is God in all of this? In fact, the April 1, edition of the USA TODAY included an article by Lindsay Schnell with the headline, “Is the Coronavirus an act of God? Faith leaders debate tough questions amid pandemic.” How do we share hope and hear God amidst the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, which has killed more than 172,000 worldwide, infected more than 2.5 million and crippled the global economy?
As Christians, we want to say the “right” thing when we express God’s love and faithfulness to others. But we often resort to clichés that are ultimately less than helpful and may actually be based on myth. We insist that “everything happens for a reason,” and hope that God “won’t give us more than we can handle.” When we don’t know how to comfort a grieving friend, we resort to “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” In our struggle for certainty, we claim that “the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But while these phrases make good bumper stickers, do they accurately express what we believe to be true about God and discipleship? In our next sermon series we’ll take a look at a few common clichés and see just how useful (or useless!) they really are and what word of hope and life God has to offer in these uncertain times. The sermon series topics and texts follow:
5/3: Question the Cliché: Everything Happens for a Reason? Key text: Romans 8: 28-39 Life happens to everyone, and very little happens “for a reason.” Are sickness, emotional stress, personal crisis, child abuse, death or disaster planned for us by a vengeful God? We can trust that, regardless of what happens, we are not abandoned. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! Instead: We don’t always know why things happen, but we know that God is always with us and for us.
5/10: Question the Cliché: God Won’t Give You More than You can Handle? Key text: 1 Cor. 10:11-13 Does God give some people hardship, while giving others easy lives? And if we can handle everything on our own, why do we need God? The reality is that we can’t do it all by ourselves. Yet God is faithful, providing peace and hope in all the challenges we face. God helps us look at every situation, even the awful ones, with eyes of hope. Instead: God doesn't give us what we can handle; God helps us handle what we’ve got.
5/17: Question the Cliché: God must have needed another angel in heaven? Key Text: John 11:1-4, 17-27, 32-44 Does God take children away from their parents because there’s a shortage of angels? Does God really cause children or our loved ones to die, or does God weep with us? What do you say to someone who has lost a loved one? What’s helpful? What’s hurtful? Jesus weeps at death, but also provides the hope of resurrection. Instead: Don’t say a thing. Let your presence speak. If you must speak let it be an expression of love.
I invite you to join us on Sundays. We will continue to offer services utilizing Facebook Live at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., until further notice and the CDC guidelines change. We will keep everyone informed and up to date as soon as we know when and how we can be physically together once again. Until then, may God fill you with peace, mercy, grace and love.