“Now I want you to know that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians 1:12-14
These are unusual times! People have endured difficult things in the past. There is no doubt about that, but none of us have seen an epidemic like this in our lifetime. While some face some minor inconveniences, others are experiencing real challenges. The looming danger is very real for many. No one knows how long things will be as they are. I write this on Friday, March 20, 2020. We all want to be optimistic about a return to normal, but I’m expecting it may be quite a ways off. Most of us are trying to live in a “new normal,” whatever that may be.
We have tried to take measures that are wise. This has included the cancellation of worship services and other weekly events and meetings. While at times we all hope for “a break.” This is not the kind of break we desire. In some ways, here at the church, we are working harder to do the things that we once did.
I chose the passage above because the Apostle Paul was in a new reality for him. His great desire was always to take the gospel where it had not yet been heard. He was now imprisoned and one would have thought that he would be greatly discouraged by this limitation. The portion of the passage I chose picks up with a different orientation altogether. Rather than being limited, Paul is finding ways to let God work in and through him in that time and place. He is a witness to a unique audience and literally some are bound to him and are a “captive” audience. Others are picking up the slack and sharing the good news of Christ with courage and with renewed energy.
I wonder what God could do in us and through us in these days? I am being forced to make use of technology to seek to get my sermons out to you. I have wanted to have this possibility for some time, but didn’t find the help or keep pursuing it. With Justin Knox’s help, we have been able to utilize a YouTube channel. We are just beginning, but it might be a springboard of more to come, especially for those outside of our normal reach. We may also pursue other things that might make possible some interaction and feedback. I don’t seek these things as a replacement for coming and being a part of a live service with the smiles and presence of others, and the human touch. Yet, for some, even when we are able to return, they may not be able. I am thankful for this added push.
I am finding more time to commit to prayer. I hope that you are as well. Some of the activities that usually occupy my time are being freed up. I have always believed that prayer should be a priority, but God is giving me time to make it so.
You may be finding more time to be present with family. While this can be challenging, it is a great opportunity to do things at home together. Perhaps, those of you who have younger families can have more time to read together, eat together, or play a game together.
This is also a unique time for us to reach out. Many folks are taking the time to connect with others. Yes, it may be through the phone or with the use of social media or face time, but we are doing so. Others are trying to be especially helpful to those in most need. A number of our folks are trying to be especially attentive to food needs in our community. Others are trying to pick up items for someone who is in a more vulnerable risk group. Some, who have the means to do so, are trying to tip others in a greater portion, because they know that they are missing out on these needed wages. Thank you.
These are, indeed, unusual times, but I hope that they not simply be a time to be endured. Instead, let us trust God for this time and place and use it for God’s glory.
Love in Christ,