Reflections On A Changing, Uncertain World

Today's lectionary reading for the season of Lent comes to us from 2 John verse 12, which reads:
Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
As I was reading through all of the texts for today, this is the verse that stood out to me.  Especially that one strange line at the very end of the letter. 

One strange line that seems so very appropriate right now. 

I'm fresh off of the very first "online-only" worship service at my church, all due to a new Austin city ordinance banning gatherings of 250 or more people because of fears over the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

Unlike a lot of churches, my church was equipped for online-only worship.  We did just about everything we normally do on a Sunday---even conducted a baptism of a sweet baby girl.

But the sanctuary was empty, except for some key staff members, a couple of people who decided to come and attend anyway, and a smattering of folks who didn't get word that we'd canceled in-person worship.

As I stood there staring into a camera yesterday, I found myself picturing the faces of my congregation in the empty seats.  

And I missed them.  

I longed to see them face to face, so that our joy would be complete.  It made me realize just how different the world had become, and it got me thinking more deeply about what had changed and why.  

I feel like there's something to be learned about who we are as people in all of this.  For most of us, COVID-19 is nothing more than an annoyance.  But for some among us, the virus is deadly. 

Which means that all of the efforts that are being made right now to promote "social distancing" and to prevent the spread of the virus are to protect the most vulnerable among us. 

For those of us who follow Jesus, this ought to make sense.  After all, he once said that God's kingdom is like a shepherd who left his whole flock in the wilderness to go find one lost sheep.  

In my reading today I found this passage in the book of Proverbs chapter 24 that speaks into the truth of this far more eloquently:
11 Rescue those being led away to death;    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?Does not he who guards your life know it?    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
There is a lot of fear right now around us.  And many of us might find ourselves feeling angry or resentful as we feel that fear tightening and narrowing our world, restricting our freedoms.  

But we need to take solace in the knowledge that we are living into the values of God's kingdom, and into the love that Christ himself showed to vulnerable and compromised people throughout his ministry.  

May this give you hope and strength to carry on in this uncertain time.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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