Daily Devotion – 03/30/2020
“As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.'” (John 9:1-3)
As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen two tendencies among some church leaders that disturb me.
The first occurred in a recent article, in which a pastor suggested that the pandemic might be a judgment from God. And even if it is not, he suggested that what we all need to do in response is to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.” (Though humility is always a good thing, I am not sure what that phrase even means in response to the pandemic.)
Let me be absolutely, completely clear about this:
the COVID-19 pandemic IS NOT A JUDGMENT FROM GOD.
Anyone who tries to suggest that a God of love, a God of grace, a God who poured that Divine Self into Jesus, would send a global pandemic, anyone who would suggest that, has taken God’s very name and self in vain.
This crisis has not come from God. This is a crisis and a tragedy played out on a global scale. Yes, we want answers, but sometimes those answers are not to be found. But God’s presence still remains. God is with us, suffering with us, grieving with us, crying with us, dying with us.
So I am reminded of Jesus with the man born blind when the disciples asked who had sinned. Jesus responds simply: This is not about sin. This is about an opportunity for God’s work to be shown.
So in the same way, please hear this reply. The pandemic is not about sin. It is an opportunity for us to respond and show how God’s work and God’s love and God’s Spirit might be shown.
But as we respond, let me tell you about a second tendency. It came in a text with a pastors’ group (not Lutheran) and suggested that if we just have enough faith, we can throw our doors open in the midst of this crisis and not worry about getting sick.
Let me be absolutely, completely clear about this as well:
God gave you a head for a reason – USE IT!
God gave us doctors and nurses and health professionals for a reason – listen to them! Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. And most importantly, as far as you able and until it is safe to do so: STAY HOME!
It means that as we reach out, we need to find new and creative ways for God’s work to be shown. We are blessed with new technologies from FaceBook Live to Zoom that allows us to hold meetings and see each other, to stream our worship services, and send out live devotions each day. It means that we also can send out notes, pick up the phone, and check on one another, especially for those most vulnerable around us.
As I see the number of people who are taking advantage of these opportunities – as I see our own church take advantage of these technologies old and new – I see God’s work, God’s love, God’s Spirit at work.
And my hope and my prayer is that when the crisis passes – AND IT WILL – we take the best of what we have learned and continue to grow together as one people of God.
God, in a crisis I cannot comprehend, I am overwhelmed with fear and anxiety and grief. Help me in the midst of this flood of emotions to know how I can be there for others going through this struggle. Help me to know how you call me to be as your follower. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
In Christ,
Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner