BEING.. LIVING.. HOPE EVEN IN THE CHAOS!

Strange.. “interesting”.. uncharted.. trying.. fearful.. (from some.. even..) “Apocalyptic”!?!?  There is an endless list of words one can use to describe the times we find ourselves in.  But no matter what word has become your favourite, these are circumstances - I can safely suggest – are of the sort none of us thought we would ever see.  And if for only that fact alone - that this IS an unfolding of life, of which, most of us have no experience and for which we have made virtually no preparation - feeling afraid, anxious, lost and almost overwhelmed are to be expected.  Add to this, the truth that we feel we know so little about this virus, and that in some cases it can be very serious (it IS important to remember that truly dangerous cases are fewer than we might dread) and our worry and occasional moments of panic are even more understandable.

And as I said in my sermon on Sunday.. we do need to be allowed to be honest about how this has thrown us all into a version of darkness and a sense of powerlessness we hate.  It is important to be able to be honest that we are afraid.  And if nowhere else.. it is among our fellow people of faith and “in” the church that we need to create safe places to share those feelings.  (Please know that I will be continuing to look for ways that as church we can provide whatever venues – virtual etc. – for us to “be with each other” in spite of the sensible restrictions we need to observe.  See further announcements above/below.)

All of that rightly and honestly admitted, it is also important – even as we sensibly respond with appropriate measures of caution – that we remember that we are more than what we fear.  As people of faith we do believe – and TRUST - that God is STILL AT WORK even in the midst of these chaotic days.  We remember that ours is the God who once “brooded over the waters” and out of that chaos and nothingness – with great love – created order and beauty and LIFE.  And we remember that – as we have be shown in Jesus – our God has never stopped bringing life and being here with us in and through every time of chaos the world brings.

I say all this not simply to white-wash over what is the very serious, and anxiety-inducing reality in which we find ourselves.  I do so rather to call us back into the other important aspects of reality that will never go away in the midst of and alongside it.  These are the realities of hope that come in knowing that our God IS at work through all those many folks who are caring for people, researching for a cure/vaccination, making hard decisions, and doing what needs to be done.  This is the reality of remembering that there are still all kinds of ways that you and I can lift our heads up, walk toward the light, and then also work to help each other feel the light’s warmth too. 

Indeed as a doctor I heard being interviewed said,  “it is one thing to prepare for the ‘worst case scenario’ but it is another to dwell in the worst case.”  To too much “dwell in the worst case” is to be paralysed by this.  It is where panic is born.  And it is what “turns us in on ourselves” in the most unhelpful/unhealthy ways.

The truth being, as we hear so often, that even in the midst of “social distancing,” there are still a myriad of ways for us to see hope and BE HOPE.. foster and be community - the “gathered, caring people of God” we are!  All those things that are daily suggested on Facebook, and radio and TV are good places to start… finding ways to reach out to people who are alone with simply a call or a text to let them know they are cared about; …DO THINGS FOR PEOPLE you know need to more seriously isolate themselves (ie get groceries, share your pantry, get their medications for them etc.);  …PRAY…. pray and pray and pray some more. As St. Paul once challenged us.. “Pray without ceasing”.  If nothing else it points our hearts in the direction they most need to be turned right now!!!

Just so, there is a great deal to be said for looking for ways to use the time or space we have been given in the best ways possible.  (It is probably a bit early to expect anyone to be too excited about this.. but soon..). Now is the time, as you are invited to spend more time at home and with the smaller groups that define your life, to do more intentional things to get at the nurturing of those relationships that you haven’t had time to do before.  Or likewise, make plans to do things that stretch you and fulfill you that you haven’t been able to get to lately.  Or yeah, to be really radical and spend more time getting into the God stuff (the Bible, a devotional, a book..).  Now is the time, to dig a bit deeper into how close God really is and how real God’s grace is!?!  It changes everything!!

And for sure, make sure you seek out and let in the “good news” that is out there.  Even (maybe especially) in these days, there ARE incredibly inspiring stories of people showing care for each other, being creative with their lives, and sharing of themselves in ways they might not have before all this drop on us.

For me THIS is how we live the hope that is our faith.  This is how we become people who are touched by the “light of the world” that is Christ, SO THAT we can become, ourselves, light in the darkness.  “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has NOT overcome it.” – John 1:5.

Please call if there is any way I or the church can help you.  If you know someone who could use a call (phone) from the pastor.. let me know.  If you know someone who needs something it might take a different kind of expertise or help with, let us know. In the days ahead I will trying to put together lists of folks who can help and the skills they have.  As with every day and every step through this life… we are in this together.  Today though, as we are being forcibly separated, it is even more important to remember that!!!!

-      Peace to you all in Christ, Pastor Stewart, March 19, 2020

A VERY PRACTICAL WORD…

As is being regularly reported, there are going to be economic effects to the closure and shut down of many places that rely on the public to gather. Many small business will suffer lost income. As we all try to stay home more, consider ordering delivery or take-out, consider calling local stores to see if they will deliver their wares to you, consider supporting businesses in whatever way you can. 

 The church will also, of course, be affected as in person services worship and public gatherings are suspended but most normal expenses continue (salaries, building costs, etc.). Please consider (as you are able) ways that you can continue to give and support the churches during this time. 

 Our offices will be closed but communications will be tracked as much as possible: checking phone messages, picking up the mail etc.. If you are able you can consider dropping off or mailing in offering. One possibility is to send post-dated cheques. 

 Many churches also have ways to give online. A good time to begin using online tools!   We at Bread of Life have a “Donate Now” button on the Webpage https://www.breadoflifelutheranchurch.ca/ that enables you to donate digitally.

 Thank you to those who are already giving through already giving through PAR  (Pre-Authorized Remittance), that choice will make a significant difference in the weeks and months to come. 

If you would like to arrange PAR for your family you can do this by contacting the office by email at [email protected].  

In the meanwhile please continue to pray for our wisdom and grace to meet the challenges ahead.