22 March 2020 – 4th Sunday of Lent
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
Jesus is the light of the world,
The solution to sin,
The promise of our eternal future.
On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.
The current pandemic reminds me of how dependent we are on God. Life is fragile. It is as if our efforts to serve the Lord became stale, predicable, too easy and the Lord wants us to be more creative, daring, fresh, and bold. Perhaps God is calling the faithful to create new ways of Christian engagement to deepen faith, strengthen the church, and meet the needs of the world. Talk with me … phone, video, text or email. Let’s work together to identify and address the new opportunities for ministry this current crisis provides.
We are all anxious about unfolding events. The Lord woke me at 4:00 am Thursday morning to give you ten simple things to bring immediate relief to fear, replace anxiety with joy, and wrap each of us tightly in the confidence of God’s love:
1) Turn off the news. The constant stream of information is exhausting. Take a break. The quickly changing environment that upsets routine will begin to slow. Rest. Update yourself with current events on your terms, only to keep yourself and your family safe. Restore. Use the break to grow strong; physically, emotionally, spiritually. Sleep more, eat better, play. Restore.
2) Get outdoors. Spring is here. Go for a walk or run. Revel in God’s glorious creation. Find the Divine Awe creek side, along a hiking trail, overlooking a waterfall, in the smell of a patch of emerging Jack-in-the-Pulpit, raindrops falling on the cheeks, the wind making its way across a field. This is God’s majesty at work. We are a part of God’s greatest masterpiece! Release the joy!
3. Touch the Eternal. Place a small stone in your pocket and carry it with you. Allow the stone to serve as a reminder. The Eternal God who created that stone long before we were born, who loves us so much we are given Jesus, is the same God who will save us to an eternal home long after our mortal bodies are gone. Touch that stone; touch it often.
4. Take your pulse. Lightly touch your wrist. Gently touch your neck. You’re alive! Every heartbeat is a gift from God, a constant reminder of how much we are loved, and an ever-present source of God’s gift of life. Set a routine for taking your pulse, such as before and after every meal, or at waking and before sleep.
5. Breath. Breath deep and slow. Long inhales and long exhales. Purse your lips. Position yourself for maximum effect. Invite the Holy Spirit to enter your ebb and flow. Feel the Spirit’s fullness in your lungs. Experience the tide like movement in and out of your body. Breathe the Holy Spirit upon another (from more than 12 feet away!). Breathe the Spirit as a blessing, using your arms and hands to send it on its way.
6. Check in with your neighbors and each other. Call. Text. Write a note. Stop in Rush Connections using Zoom video. Watch for God at work in others. Be alert to needs that may emerge. Strategize how to meet those needs. When you experience God at work, report it! Witness it to others! I call these observations “Glory Sightings!” Keep a list of your Glory Sightings and share them often.
7. Practice charity. Where there is a need, give. Give joyfully. Give generously. Give sacrificially. Give in the name of God; the One who has given to you and me all good things. Sacrifice means giving something up. Think about what can be surrendered to make your act of charity more vibrant, more real. The happiest, most joy filled people on the planet are those who give. Spread some happiness.
8. Read your Bible daily. Connect with God through the Word God has provided. It’s a tool; use it! The more you use it, the more proficient you’ll get. Experience develops muscle memory in the body, mind, and heart. Set a time every day to experience God’s holy Word. If it has been a while, start by reading the Gospel of Matthew. Read it slowly. Pace yourself. Read small chunks at a time. Read the Gospel from start to finish. Watch for key words and allow God to speak to you through them.
9. Practice Sabbath weekly. Take one day a week off to do nothing except to thank God for the expanse of grace we’ve been given. Make a list of everything God has given you, for which you are thankful. You’ve been given a whole day, so make it a long list! Once you’ve wrung every ounce of thanks out of your body, turn your attention to praise. Give God praise. Praise God in prayer, song, worship, and Sacrament.
10. Wash your hands. Every time you wash your hands, say a prayer. Make it a good prayer, because hands need to be scrubbed frequently and thoroughly. End your prayer while washing with The Lord’s Prayer. Do this and you’ll successfully wash for two minutes or more. You will have made that connection with God that gets you through that very next moment.
Thank you for supporting our congregational leaders and staff with your encouragement, prayers, and kindness. We’re doing the best we can, relying on the grace and love of God.
Personally, thank you for your prayers and kind words.
Beloved, God loves you, and so do I,