Archive for April, 2020

Pandemic Observations

Here are some of my random thoughts and observations during this corvid-19 epidemic and shutdown.

Who would have thought the gears of this country and the world could grind to a halt so dramatically and so fast. What will be the long-term affect? How fast will the sleeping dragon be able to awake and stir back into action. Time will tell.

We have worried about terrorist attacks, electrical grid outages, computer sabotage, contamination of major water supplies, and nuclear missiles, but it was a microscopic, unseen virus that got us.

We have been living as if our “wants” are necessities. Shortages and empty shelves are turning us into panicky, selfish hoarders. Our system of supply and demand is very fragile. We expect grocery shelves to always be full and all our “wants” to be satisfied. So many people live on the edge and don’t know how to preserve food or cook. We depend on weekly (or maybe daily) runs to the grocery store. It is shocking how many people depend on restaurants and fast-food for the majority of their meals, including breakfast.

Almost all businesses, retail giants and small, operate on the edge. To close down, even for a week, is devastating. This is really scary. Families live pay check to pay check. There is no reserve. How many business will survive a month or more shutdown?

This worldwide shutdown has affected every country, every nation and every aspect of our life; food, medicine, medical care, recreation, education, worship, banking, transportation, social activities, shopping, interstate commerce and transportation of goods, and even online shopping. We depend on the world for our energy, food, medicine and manufacturing. Every business and job has suffered the consequences-even the essential.

It is amazing how quickly your schedule can go from hectic full to nothing. No meetings, no sports, no appointments, no church, no school or school events, and no family get togethers. Nothing. No places to go, no things to do. Families are starting to reconnect, parents are cooking, cleaning, doing home projects, and helping kids with homework. Suddenly there is the urge to homestead with a few chickens and a garden plot.

Isn’t it amazing how the earth is healing itself? I read and hear reports of smog free air in major cities and countries for the first time in many, many years. All it has taken is a few short weeks of staying at home! I even read one seismology report that says there has been a sudden and dramatic decrease in the earth’s quivering. Who would have thought that all our running hither and yon has made the earth quiver!

It has been difficult for some people to take the virus restrictions seriously. Why do parents take their most precious, irreplaceable possession (children) to stores and with no protection? Why do they flock in droves to Walmart and Lowes for nonessentials and ignore the order to stay home? Why are they still having parties, going to the beach and visiting grandpa and grandma as if it doesn’t apply to them?

How quickly our lives have changed…for the short-term. We wash, scrub, sanitize, disinfect, cover, schedule curb-side pickup, wait in drive through lines, worry about getting within the magical six feet of another human, and won’t leave the house without mask and gloves. We no longer hug, fist bump or shake hands, and Lord help us if we cough or sneeze in public.

Church and worship is a very important part of my life. In fact, I have discovered going to church is the anchor for my week. I find it difficult to keep track of which day of the week it is! It is harder to keep Sunday a day of rest when we don’t go to church. I miss my church family and friends. Worshiping Jesus and following Him does not depend on church but it sure does help. In fact, I think long-term, it depends on it. Listening to youtube sermons is helpful and suffices for the short-term, but it still leaves a void in my life. Giving my church sisters a hug is not the same as a phone call or text message. I know, missing a few Sundays will not be the end of church, but it has helped me to appreciate the freedom to worship in our country and to not take it for granted.

We have had persons at our church going through some difficult things; surgery, death, illness, and hospice. We so desperately want to visit, hug, help and be with our loved ones when they grieve and suffer alone. When we gather around hurting loved ones to pray we feel the loving arms of God through our brothers and sisters in Christ. It gives us strength, peace and care. Leaving a pot of soup or a loaf of bread on someone’s porch is nice, but it leaves a huge gaping hole in our emotional care for them and us.

The natural tendency of people is to complain and criticize. Instead of being grateful the virus has been slowed down due to restrictions, they whine that they have been misled. Instead of praying for our country, President, leaders and health care workers, they mock, belittle, criticize, destroy, and place blame. Instead of giving thanks to God that lives have been spared, they politicize and fear that government is trying to take over their lives. Instead of turning to God in our time of great need, we harden our hearts.

I leave us all with a challenge to seek God with all our hearts and not take for granted the freedom we have to worship freely. Pray daily for our President and leaders as they carry the weight of our nation and the world on their shoulders. Respect and obey our leaders as they give guidance through this difficult time. Confess our sins as a nation that times of refreshing and healing can come. Humble yourself before God. Be grateful and give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Show kindness and care for one another. Reach out in appropriate ways to a neighbor or friend. We have all received a wound from this battle, some more than others. the wound will heal and maybe a scar will remain. Will you let it make you stronger, wiser and more caring and appreciative of your many blessings? Remember, this is for the short-term. God be with you dear friends.

They Sang A Hymn

My thoughts and pondering this Easter morning……

Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 add an interesting tidbit to the story of the Last Supper. “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. Have you ever wondered what hymn they sang?  No other place in scripture records that Jesus or his disciples sang. What do you think they sounded like?

This song was at the end of a very troubling, sorrowful, unsettling, full of questions, Passover meal. Jesus had shocked their social culture by washing their feet. They could hardly bear it. He served them bread and wine and said that this was his body and blood. He revealed some troubling news about his imminent death and asked if they had a sword. They swore that they would die with him. Judas had been singled out as the one who would betray their beloved friend and teacher and fled into the night to do his evil deed. And so they sang. There is no explanation of significance for us Gentile believers decades later.

I suspect it was mournful, sad and subdued. But when we dig a little deeper, there is a little more to this hymn that just the statement “they sang a hymn”.

The Greek word used for this word hymn is “humnos”. Humnos was used to speak of the Psalms of Israel. From ancient times it was ordained that the Passover Seder would always end with the singing of songs, specifically the Psalms, and a very specific set of Psalms called the Hallels. The Passover would end with the singing of the last of these, Psalms 118.

Take a few minutes to read Psalms 118.  Verse 22 says “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  Rejected also means despised. Who was to become the despised, rejected stone? Isaiah 53 says, “He (Jesus) was despised and rejected by man….”. For two thousand years that song was sung, the song of the rejected stone at the end of every the Passover meal. On this very Passover, within hours of singing, it would be fulfilled.

Immediately after singing that hymn, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives where in great agony of prayer, he yield to the will of his Father. Soon afterwards, Jesus was arrested, despised, and rejected. Jesus, “the stone” was cast away to be crucified. The despised, rejected man on the cross would end up becoming the “cornerstone of faith” for all people, all civilizations and all of history. In God, the object of man’s hatred becomes the center of His love, and the object of man’s despising becomes the vessel of His glory. How amazing is that? And it was all there that night in the song of the stone, sung by Jesus and his disciples at the close of the Passover Seder.

(Thoughts and some direct quotes were taken from “The Book of Mysteries,”  Day 99, by Jonathan Cahn).

Note: I have been using “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn this year for my devotions. It is a powerful study of the words of scripture making them come alive, just like this example of the hymn. I had never given a second thought that there was meaning and purpose behind it. Pat

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