Speaking of His own death in John 16:32, Jesus says to His disciples; “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home…” Although Jesus is talking about the disciples’ response to His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, this is something we can all relate to, given the events of the last week. In response to this global pandemic which has claimed the lives of so many people around the world already, and in the hopes of mitigating the spread in our own community, we’ve all been practicing social distancing, and in some cases complete isolation. As Jesus said, the time has come, and we have each scattered to our own home. And I suspect like those first disciples who scattered after Jesus’ arrest, we too are struggling with fear in the face of all this uncertainty. However, we need to resist this as much as possible. We need to consistently fight against feelings of fear and hopelessness. Jesus gives us the reason why in the next verse–33; “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.”
The trials and challenges of life–large, small, and even global–are inevitable. However, in the midst of these things–in the midst of COVID-19–Jesus wants us to have peace! And the reason we can have peace is because Jesus has overcome the world. In His death and resurrection, Jesus overcame our two greatest enemies: sin and death–the rest is details. These words are a great comfort to me and I hope to you as we go through this strange and difficult time because they remind us that Jesus is bigger than anything that this world can throw at us. He is bigger than COVID-19; He’s bigger than loneliness and isolation; He’s bigger financial hardship, and food shortages. And when we are in Him–when we are in Christ–we can know His peace, no matter what’s happening around us.
Instead of responding to our current situation–to the reality of our scattering–in fear; we need to respond in faith. This means watching what we put in ourselves. The more we watch the news, the more fearful we become, and the more fearful we become, the less faith-filled we’ll be. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be informed about what’s happening in the world around us. What I’m saying is that we need to limit our exposure to the negative–to those things which breed fear and hopelessness; and fill our hearts and minds with things that build our faith instead of tear it down. We need to follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8; “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” The more we think about these kinds of things–the more we focus on faith, the less fearful we’ll be. We are a people of faith, trust and hope. Our lives rest securely in the hands of our merciful and loving God. The Lamb is on the throne, especially in times of uncertainty and fear. This is the Good News that we must proclaim in the face of all the bad news that we’ve been hearing from around the world. And this is the Good News that the world so desperately needs to hear, now more than ever!
One of the best ways that we can fill ourselves with good things that nurture and strengthen our faith is to focus on God–on His nature, character, and on promises. Promises that can be found in His very name–in who He is! And so over the next few weeks, during this time of scattering, I want to offer a series of reflections on the Names of God–as a reminder of who it is we trust in; how He promises to meet our deepest needs; and how we can be strengthened, comforted, and encouraged by it in this time of uncertainty that we find ourselves in.
Sermon: Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Our Provider
Preacher: The Rev. Christopher Doering
Date: Sunday, March 22, 2020 (Live Stream #1)
Scripture: Luke 12:22-34
Sermon: Jehovah Shalom: The Lord Our Peace
Preacher: The Rev. Christopher Doering
Date: Sunday, March 29, 2020 (Live Stream #2)
Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22
Sermon Notes: Part2.HO
- I forgot to stop recording after I was done preaching, so you have a bit of me singing at the end. My apologies.