Jesus knew where that parade with the path strewn with palm branches and cloaks into Jerusalem was headed- to rejection and the cross. But what about the people lining the streets? Where did they see this “Son of David” leading them? Some believed he was there to raise up an army and drive out the hated Romans. Some believed he would replace Herod or the High Priest and establish a just rule in Israel. Some were there just because they liked a parade! And some were looking for this great healer to heal their sickness, their disease; perhaps even their viruses.
In the past few weeks, I've noticed a theme to my sermons. That theme has been living in the hope that Jesus, the light of the world, brings us even in the valley of the shadow of death. That is a message that is important to get out there in times of fear and despair. But as followers of the Messiah, the Christ, we are called to more than living in the comforting words of scripture and the warmth of fellowship we've been able to share. We are commanded, in the words of John's epistle, “this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another.”
Belief brings us the hope that we've talked about, it brings us into the light of faith. And being in the light, as John continues, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light.” Love is not a feeling. Love is action. And we are living in a time where a lot of our brothers and sisters are hurting. There is record unemployment. People are fearful for their lives even with the preventative measures we are taking. People are lonely, isolated, separated from family an friends; especially in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Those who are hospitalized with the Coronus virus are all those things; without a job, fearful of death and are not allowed any visitors, even spouses. There are some things we can do nothing about. But there are some positive actions we can take as we live as light in the darkness of this pandemic.
I saw an ad on TV, a current one using the crisis as the basis. The spokesperson said, “Most of us are worried about two things; our health and our wallets.” I hope that isn't true. I hope as Christians our top two concerns are how to best love and follow God and to love our neighbor in the midst of this crisis. That is the command. But for many of us, it is hard to know what that looks like. There are many stories telling of how people are caring for their neighbors. There are many stories from the people on the screen with us right now. I can't know everything people here are doing, but I know some and will make a list. I want us to both recognize those serving and help the rest of us with ideas about how to serve our neighbors in need.
-sewing and helping distribute surgical masks
-cooking, baking, distributing turkey dinners
-doing business with local restaurants, buying gift cards or take out
-helping pay bills when income has become limited
-sending notes to shut-ins, making phone calls
-help deliver needed supplies
-donate to organizations that help; Red Cross, Salvation Army, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance come to mind
-be respectful of social distancing; huggers stop hugging, give 6 feet space even if you don't feel it is necessary, respect other's needs for boundaries.
These are some ideas that make a difference. And if you feel overwhelmed, reach out. Call me and I can help direct you to the help you need!
This pandemic is upon us, we can't change that. But we can show the love that Jesus commands, we can be the light that make the valley less dark, less stressful, less hopeless. Daughter-in-law Julie shared a video on Facebook this week that fits exactly with what I'm trying to say. (video: Be A Light)
On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, welcomed as a king. But the people missed the real reason Jesus came. They wanted him to solve their problems, to make life easy, free of worries and trouble and diseases. That was not the promise. John quotes this promise from Jesus, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33) We will have war, we will have doubts, there will be darkness, noise, change... but we have peace...we have faith... and we are the light for the rest of the world! Be the light to this world of darkness. Amen.
Hymn: 88PH All Glory, Laud, and Hon