I have been around long enough to recall four distinct tragedies, each separated by about twenty years.
November 22, 1963: Assassination of John F. Kennedy.
January 28, 1986: The Challenger explosion.
September 11, 2001: World Trade Center attack.
March ?, 2020: COVID 19
I know exactly where I was for the first three—the last I’m not so sure, but I do know that after the Sunday, March 15th worship, the building was closed to face-to-face worship. Many church buildings completely locked their doors, and no one entered for some time.
The first three events caused people to flood into churches. People know where to go when they are in trouble, even if it’s been years since they attended. The fourth event, the coronavirus, closed the church building, the very place where people felt the need to go. Also, we more or less knew when the first three events were over, but we are still uncertain about the fourth. Just when we think it is safe to go back into the water, we are called to wait a bit longer.
The news holds ongoing updates and a daily scorecard that reads like a war report: cases confirmed, deaths recorded, and recoveries made. Stories told from all walks of life. It will take years before we know the full effects of COVID 19.
As each day passes, we are faced with new and more difficult challenges. One of the more difficult things to deal with is the great challenge of the unknown. We are all facing unknown waters and upon these waters, we can all be frightened. I was reminded of the time when the disciples were afraid in the midst of a storm on the sea.
Yes, in the midst of the storm of sickness, economic fears, and social isolation, we can feel like our boat is filling up and we have run out of buckets for bailing. We too might be asking, “Is Jesus asleep at the wheel?” Let me reassure you, we worship a God, as Psalm 121 instructs us, that our God does not slumber, nor does he sleep. Yes, the One we worship is this Christ Jesus, who speaks a word and calms the storm. May the Word of his promise calm the storm of doubt, fear, and trouble within you. For he has promised, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Heal our world, heal our bodies, strengthen our hearts and our minds, and in the midst of turmoil, give us hope and peace.