It may seem that this is a terrible time, and in many ways, it is.  People are suffering and dying from COVID-19.  Many people lost their jobs.  Others who are keeping their jobs are risking their lives to help others or simply to keep putting food on their tables.  All of us are restricted in our travel and in our contact with others.  People in nursing homes are cut off from visits from family and friends.  We are all worried about our elders and friends and family members who are medical professionals or first responders.

These are hard days for all of us.  Even grief cannot be fully expressed as we cannot gather for funerals to celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths of loved ones.  I don’t know when we’ll be able to remember Bob Percy, who died earlier this month.  But we will gather.  We will come together.  We will remember.  We will give thanks for Bob’s life and sing together, trusting that we will see him again.

We are struggling.  And yet, we are not helpless.  We are not abandoned.  We are not forsaken.  This is a major crisis, and it is probably the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes.  But it is not the first challenge we have faced.  This is certainly not the first challenge that God’s people have faced.

The first Christians faced many challenges.  When someone decided to follow Jesus, it could mean losing work, losing family, losing one’s freedom, or even losing one’s life.  St. Paul did not have it easy.  When he wrote to the Corinthians, he encouraged them to recognize the grace that they had been given and, even in the face of hardship, to remember that they were God’s beloved people. Paul doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He has been through a lot, and he doesn’t minimize the trauma and suffering.  He also does not minimize the power of God’s grace to sustain and bless God’s people.

We are facing some fierce challenges, but, like Paul and the Corinthians, we are not alone.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit not only to survive, but to rise above the situation and be at our best. That is what I have seen.

Meals-on-Wheels continues to bring food to many people from Trinity’s building.  Most of the volunteers are over 70. They are at risk, but
they continue to help people who are even more vulnerable than they are.  They are being smart.  We have reconfigured the Meals-on-Wheels
room to make social distancing possible.  The volunteers are being smart and safe, and they are continuing to serve.  A few volunteers were unable to continue, but Trinity members and others have picked up the routes so that food continues to be delivered to people who need it.

When I asked people in our virtual worship services to let me know if they could help, several people immediately volunteered.  Groceries are being delivered. Phone calls are being made.  Encouragement is being given.  Prayers are being prayed.

There is no better time than right now to reach out to someone and express care and love. There is no better time than now to pray for a medical professional or an elder.  There is no better time to read the Bible and receive some encouragement for yourself. God is hearing us.  God is helping us.  God is empowering us to help one another.

St. Paul says it much better than I do:

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.  For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are
putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with
our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in
every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by
purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,
truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of
righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in
ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive;
as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as
poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing
everything” (2 Corinthians 6:1-10).

We are God’s beloved people.  If you need help, please ask.  Sometimes asking for help is the most faithful thing that we can do. We honor God and honor one another when we let others help us.  If you can offer help, please do.  There are few greater joys in life than helping someone who needs it.

I am praying for you. You are precious in God’s sight.

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