Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wear Your Mask

As this quarantine continues to roll on through 2020, we find ourselves facing a spike in cases. Everybody is wearing a mask, washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, and keeping six feet away from each other. We have also shut down some businesses, curtailed hours and occupancy rates for others, and some are even suggesting we cancel Christmas. I think we need to be smart. At South Church, we follow all of the recommended protocols and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

At the same time, it is interesting to note that, according to the CDC information as of November 17, the survival rate of Covid-19 is 98%. That means for those who are not in a medical high-risk category, the chance of dying from the Coronavirus is exceedingly small. Now, that does not in any way, mean that we should take it lightly or let down our guard. I am not saying that at all. What I am simply observing is how people have completely overturned their lives (voluntarily), and made substantial changes to their daily routines so that they will not catch something, which they have a 98% chance of surviving. 

Ironically, while fear of the Coronavirus is at an all-time high, all those people, who spend significant amounts of time worried about catching the virus, spend little or no time concerned about what would happen next if they did happen to die from Covid-19. Look, the death rate is actually 100% for all of us. Meaning, we are all doing to die – someday from something. Are you ready for what comes next? Are you absolutely certain you are going to heaven? Have you confessed your sin to God, asked for His forgiveness, repented, and proclaimed Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If you have, what about those you love? 

Jesus says in John 14, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Without Christ, there is no salvation. Jesus told the crowds in Luke 12, “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those [including viruses] who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that” (Luke 12:4). The “after that” is far more important. Your heart will be broken if someone you love succumbs to Covid-19, but what is worse is knowing that you might never see them again if they don’t know Jesus. In the United States, more than 250,000 people have died from the Coronavirus, and my heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone they love. How much sadder it is to think how many of them were lost forever. 

If we want to see husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, family and friends celebrate together in the Kingdom of Heaven, then we need to tell them about the salvation found only in Christ Jesus. Yes, Covid-19 is horrible and we should do all we can to guard ourselves from it, but an eternity without your loved ones is worse. Therefore, wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Tell those you love about salvation in Jesus. 

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Remember to email your praises and petitions to southchurchprayer@gmail.com. We lift them up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 4:00 pm on Facebook Live.

 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Do Not Be Afraid

In 1534, Henry VIII passed “The Act of Supremacy,” which declared that the king was “the only Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England (or Anglican Church).” At the same time, he passed “The Treasons Act,” which made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the king as such. Many protestant reformers celebrated the resulting break with the Catholic Church; however, it soon became clear that submission to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church was simply being replaced with required obedience to the king and his newly formed Church of England. This did not sit well with a number of pastors and parishioners who believed Jesus Christ was the only head of the church on earth or anywhere else. These believers became known as “dissenters” or “non-conformists.” They were regularly mistreated, imprisoned, and on occasion even executed for the crime of refusing to worship in the Anglican way. 

Finally, during the reign of King James I, when several members of a congregation in Scrooby were imprisoned, they had had enough, and fled to Holland in order to freely practice their faith. They stayed in Holland for twelve years but got tired of the menial jobs they were restricted to and the influence Dutch culture was having on their children. They weren’t even using English as their first language any more. The truth was, they were Englishmen, and longed to live on English soil. Since they could not return to England, they decided to make a pilgrimage (from where we get the name “The Pilgrims”) to the new world.

They searched for a ship to carry them and settled on a commercial vessel that had transported wine from France, Spain, and Portugal, as well as hats, hemp, Spanish salt, hops, and even a load of vinegar to Norway. In September 1620, 102 people set sail on this ship – The Mayflower. It was an arduous 66-day journey across a stormy Atlantic. They landed in Cape Cod on November 21. Four hundred years ago. Half of the company died during the first winter, and without the help of the native Wampanoag tribe, everyone may have perished.

These “Pilgrims” were the first Congregationalists to reach what would one day become the United States of America. As modern-day Congregationalists (religious descendants of these brave sojourners), we are thankful for their faith and courage. These brothers and sisters-in-Christ were willing to stand strong against a church, a pope, a king, an ocean, and a wilderness here in the new world in order to freely worship the Lord. In the midst of trial and tribulation, it is difficult to stay strong, but remember, as the Pilgrims did, what God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So, as you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, remember to give thanks to the Lord for the faith of the Pilgrims, and, remember God’s promise even during times of struggle – like during a pandemic – He will never fail you or abandon you.

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Remember to email your praises and petitions to southchurchprayer@gmail.com. We lift them up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 4:00 pm on Facebook Live.