Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Okay, I admit it. I’m really tired of the way my world is functioning right now. In my country, we are suffering from deep divisions between those who are fearful for their lives, their livelihoods, and all things in the future and those who are probably not careful enough of their lives, their livelihoods, and all things in the future. But what has me really provoked is that there are so very many who, in Paul’s terms from Romans 8:12-13, are living according to the flesh and have placed all their hopes, dreams, and fears in this earthly life.
Christians are to be operating in a different world, an altogether different world. Yes, we’re told to love and serve our neighbor, and we need to take that very seriously. But at the sae time we are to recognize that our hope is not in this world, in our safety, in our health, in our bank accounts, our governmental stability, or any of that. It all passes away. It’s really useful in the here and now. And we don’t want to leave a mess for our children, our grandchildren, or anyone else’s children or grandchildren. But if we are wanting to talk about matters of life and death, we need to understand those things rightly.
The apostle Paul tells the Romans that Christians find their security, their worth, their value, in Christ. The Christian is an heir of God. God’s kingdom is a place of mercy and grace. It operates in this world through that very Gospel promise, that Jesus has taken the place of sinful humanity by living a perfect life and dying a perfect death on the behalf of those who hate him. Any message less than the Gospel is ultimately going to be worthless.
So what do Christians do in a time of pandemic? We confess that we live in a world in which the curse of sin has brought death into being. We recognize that there will always be suffering and death. We love and serve our neighbors. If that means wearing a mask to try to protect our neighbor, we put the mask on. If we think the mask will bring some comfort to our neighbor, we put the mask on. If we think the mask is causing anxiety because our neighbor is going to be afraid of death, maybe we take the mask off and speak words of life. We need to be speaking those words of life through a mask or without a mask. We go to work, as it is a way of loving and serving our neighbor. We keep things clean because we think there are certainly some illnesses, whether COVID or something else, which would be bad for our neighbor. But above all, we live and speak according to the Gospel.
What hope is there for those who are suffering from illness, from isolation, from depression, from fear? The very same hope of the Gospel. Jesus came to live, die, and rise from the dead in your place, as the firstfruits of the resurrection, so you, believing on him, could have eternal life and hope. We are not of this world. It doesn’t define us. God defines us.
I hope all my readers will look to Jesus, the Christ, as their hope. Go to church, whether in person or online. Receive the Word of God faithfully. As the opportunity presents itself, receive the Sacraments, tactile administrations of God’s Word. And let your value be tied up in the presence of the living God, who has loved you and chosen you to be his heir. This world and its dysfunction isn’t eternal. Look to the eternal.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.