First and foremost, my family and I, would like to extend a deep, heartfelt, “thank you” to everyone at CCC for welcoming our family into yours, and for helping us to finally secure a beautiful home just a short walk from the church building. It means more to us than words can express. We were planning on thanking you all in person this upcoming Sunday, Palm Sunday, but as is the case for every-one, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our plans. Last night, I found myself reflecting on my family’s late December visit to Red-wood Falls, and I couldn’t help but be amazed at how much the world has changed in the few short months which have passed since then.
It’s mindboggling really, how almost overnight, so many of the pleasures we’ve all grown up enjoying, came to a screeching halt; not extravagant things, or indulgent things, just simple things, like going out to eat, or shopping, or to the gym, or to school, or even gathering to worship, have all been taken away, albeit temporarily, by an enemy we can’t even see. Who would’ve thought back in December, that there’d be no March Madness, or NBA playoffs, or Major League Baseball, or high school sports, or spring break vaca-tions? Who in their wildest dreams could’ve ever predicted, that most of our great country would be on lockdown and under “shelter-in-place” orders, and that toilet paper would become one of the nation’s most valuable commodities?
I mean, had someone told us back in January, that in April, every Christian in America would be watching their Easter Sunday services on their laptops and smart phones, I doubt that any of us would’ve believed them, and yet, here we are. The unthinkable has hap-pened, our “American way of life,” has been put on hold, and worse yet, the pundits are predicting that the worst is yet to come, So now what? How, are we as Christians supposed to respond to this national emergency? Should we, like most of the unbelieving world, curse God, or blame God, or dismiss God, as irrelevant in all this? Should we sit around wringing our hands and complaining with the rest of the world about what we don’t have during this national lockdown? As followers of Jesus Christ, what should our response be?
Well, we need only to look to the Book of Psalms to find the answers to all those questions. David says in Psalm 34:1-3, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” How should we respond to what’s happening in the world right now? David says, that we should respond by praising God, and by blessing God, at all times! –not just sometimes, not just in good times, but at all times! Folks, in our lifetime, there’s never been a better opportunity to share the Gospel with people. And giv-en our current situation, and the restrictions we’re all under, the best way we can do that, is by openly and publicly praising and thanking God, for what we do have.
And practically speaking, what that means to all of us is; whether we’re at home posting on social media, or whether we’re at work, or at the drive-thru window, or in the checkout line at the grocery store, everything we do, and everything we say, we need to say and do, in such a way, that God is glorified because of it. And, why? “Because,” David says, “The humble will hear it (talking about our thanksgiving) and they’ll rejoice.” Just an incredible life-changing truth, David says, that if through this crisis, we continually praise God, for His goodness, and His mercy, and His grace, and His forgiveness, that the people around us, who hear that praise, might be humbled, and say to themselves, “Maybe, just maybe, their God is good enough, and loving enough, and gracious enough, and merci-ful enough, to even forgive me,” and they’ll too, rejoice in Him! And I just love what David does next. In V3, in light of that great truth, David invites all to join him in praising God. David says, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
And so, my closing question is simply this: Will you join David? Will you join me? Will you join my family? Will you join us, in blessing the Lord, so that in this time of great trial, the people around us might see the love of God through Christ Jesus and be attracted to it? I can’t think of a better way to accomplish our mission of loving God and loving people this Easter season, can you?
Pastor Scott Jeffrey