Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Most of us are still struggling to come to grips with what is happening in the world today.
If I’d suggested that this is what February & March 2020 would look like, I’m fairly sure that most of you would have wondered if somebody had slipped something into my drinking water.
So, how long will it last?
I suggest that only God really knows the answer to that.
His hands and feet on earth (doctors, nurses, researchers, etc) are working tirelessly to find solutions to, and to treat the effects of, the current virus that is sweeping the world.
Does it mean that the end of the world is approaching?
Well, I’m sure that it is, but then I’m also fairly sure that it won’t be in our lifetime. God has big plans for us and he’s not about to give up on us yet.
I pray that our leaders and decision makers are learning lessons from what is happening now, and that when we come out the other side, they will treat the planet differently to how it was going PC (that is, Pre-COVID-19).
It’s a great opportunity for us all and we shouldn’t let it slip – by just returning to the way things were.
(please now read Psalm 130)
The writer of this Psalm appears to be in dire straits (not unlike how many of us feel today), but he is patient and he waits for the Lord.
He has faith that the Lord will redeem us all from our sins.
(now read Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Poor old Ezekiel was perplexed when the Lord set him down in the desolate valley of the dry bones and asked him whether the bones could live. God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and tell them that the Lord would enter into them like a breath and they would live.
Quite a task for the prophet, who stood looking over a pile of dead, dried-up human bones.
Was his faith strong enough to accomplish the task the Lord had given him?
Well, of course it was!
We now know that the bones represented the physical and spiritual withering of the peoples of Israel.
Only with the help of the Lord, would they be able to regain their former life and position as God’s people.
God never asks us to do something that he hasn’t equipped us for. If we have faith, then he will be able to achieve mighty things with us – even build us up from what appears to be a hopeless position.
(read again v.14)
And for those who thought that such events only happened in the Old Testament days, I ask you to now read John 11:1-45.
It’s the well-known story of Jesus bringing his friend Lazarus back from the dead. But is it just Jesus appeasing Lazarus’s sisters Martha & Mary? I’m sure that Jesus felt their pain, but it symbolically tells us that death is not the final answer. New life, in and through our Saviour, Jesus the Christ, is waiting for us, if we choose it.
On a different note, I like the way Paul tells the Christians in Rome (read Romans 8:6-11) in verse 6 that if we set our minds on the flesh, we get death, but if we focus on the Holy Spirit, then we get life and peace. The Spirit of Life must be “in” us and we must be “in” the Spirit so that we will be “brought to life”. We need to get out of the mindset of “it’s all about me” and start thinking about how we can help others.
I pray that you’ll stay strong in these testing times and, if I haven’t been in touch with you first, you can give me a phone call on 0410 489 161 to discuss anything that may be troubling you.
You may also like to view a message from our Moderator, Simon Hansford.
Click on the link below:
As you are no doubt aware, the world, our country, our state, our city and even our church are all being affected by a new version of the coronavirus family – this one being called COVID-19. Previous ones you may remember are: the common cold, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).
It is thought that COVID-19 originated from a “wet market” in the Wuhan Province of China in December 2019, where it was transmitted from live animals to humans. Unlike some other animal-based viruses, this one became transferrable from human to human and it is a particularly virulent strain, spreading rapidly through China and then the world.
There is currently no vaccine against it, nor there is a specific treatment, although immunologists are working to develop a vaccine and we are assured that the symptoms of the virus can be treated. Unfortunately, the vulnerable in our communities are less able to fight off the virus, as their immune systems have usually been compromised and weakened.
Therefore, to control the spread of the virus, health authorities are recommending that we avoid contact with people who may be infected. That is difficult to do, if we are all mixing together. People are contagious even before showing any symptoms (which can include runny nose, headache, cough and fever, but these are also common symptoms of influenza), so we don’t always know if we’re coming into contact with someone who’s infected. Also, whilst an infected person may only have mild symptoms, they can pass the virus on to a vulnerable person, for whom the results may be fatal.
As many people utilise our church building, during the week, as well as on a Sunday, your Church Council has decided to follow the recommendation of the Synod of the NSW/ACT and suspend all activities (including Sunday worship) in the church and lounge area. This decision was only taken after much prayerful consideration, as we understand people’s desires to continue to worship together.
This action is also being followed by other Uniting Churches across our Synod.
We are exploring alternative ways for us to still worship as a community, but not in a face-to-face scenario. Leaders from our Lower North Shore Zone of the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery are getting together and pooling our resources to come up with innovative solutions to this issue of not being able to worship together in person. The results of our collaboration will be communicated to you as soon as we have them in place.
I will also be communicating with you pastorally on a more regular basis.
In the meantime, remember that, whilst we are not physically together, we are still spiritually linked through love and prayer. God is greater than any virus and we must have faith in him and his restorative love for all of us.
If you know of anyone who is self-isolating, I’m sure that they will enjoy a phone call from you. You are also quite welcome to send me an email, or give me a phone call, to discuss any issues that may be troubling you - or just to have a friendly chat.
There are many bible passages that can give us comfort in these troubling times, but we’ll start with this one from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.
Be confident in the love, compassion and care of our Lord.