To the Church in Exile,
The peace of Christ be with you. I find myself thinking of you all in a similar way to how Paul felt about the saints in Philippi; “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.” (Philippians 1:3-4.)
Our lectionary passage is from the Psalms:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14
When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh — my adversaries and foes — they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. …
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
I overheard one of my favorite managers at a Queen Anne coffee establishment comment to the customer ahead of me, “Crazy time; I’m in a purple haze.” There is something about this season in Seattle where there is so much uncertainty. Schools. Work. And for those with compromised immune systems the questions mount even more. Jean and I have a vacation planned in California in two weeks; should we fly down there? Those of you leading companies, schools, or in the medical field are weighted with new kinds of decisions coming at you each day with remarkable speed. Is anything solid? The key in all this is how to face the coming weeks without succumbing to fear.
The psalmist is so helpful. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? I love the courage, almost cockiness of those lines. Of course, it’s confidence, not in self, but in God. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though the battle rise to meet me, yet I will be confident.
C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters has a wonderful insight. A senior devil named Screwtape is writing letters to his nephew, a junior devil who is trying to get a “patient” off track. In one of his letters he’s trying to coach his nephew on how to distract his patient:
“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”
How’s that as a rule for Bethany: tomorrow is unknown, but we’re going to be concerned with what we do and trust God will show up whatever happens. We’re focused on what we’re doing, not on what will happen to us.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Lord of the universe, bend your eye toward this city and state. Give wisdom to our leaders. Be with all our sisters and brothers at Bethany facing tough decisions, unknown territory, and lingering fear. Be our light, our hope, our strength. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace in Christ,