Panic or Prudence

P2020-03-14 – Year A – Lent 3 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
Psalm 91; 1 Kings 8:22-23, 37-40; 1 John 4:7-21
(Lessons are not from the lectionary so as to respond to the Corona Virus Pandemic)

  • Lack of toilet paper at Costco earlier this week.
  • When we went a few days later, there was still no TP, but the lines were much longer.
  • My wife told me that she saw pictures yesterday of people waiting in long lines to get in!
  • These are all symptoms of panic, and panic comes from fear.

Fear

  • Let’s take a moment to consider Timothy, St. Paul’s spiritual son.
  • Timothy was ministering in Ephesus.
    • There were false teachers rising up in that church leading people astray
    • The Emperor Nero was engaged in intense persecution of the Christians across the Roman Empire.
  • It seems Timothy was afraid. Perhaps doubting himself. Perhaps paralyzed.
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-7 – Paul’s advice to Timothy. Fear doesn’t come from God. God gives just the opposite: power, love, self-control.
    • The panic the people demonstrate in the midst of disaster is the opposite of self-control.
    • When we trust in God and rely on his Spirit to give us strength, we no longer have to fear…even though we may still suffer.
    • As Christians, we have no reason to fear death.
    • Wuhan Pastor “Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27, 16:33).”
    • 2 Timothy 1:11-12 – Paul suffers for the Gospel but he trusts God.
  • It is still good to be prepared, but prepare out of prudence, not panic.

Love

  • So what about all of these closures and cancelations? Is it panic or prudence?
  • At first glance, Coronavirus might not seem like a big deal.
    • Symptoms can be mild for many, especially children and healthy adults.
    • While we don’t want to take any death lightly, there are other causes of death that are killing much larger numbers of people.
    • Based on this, it might seem like the response to Coronavirus is overkill.
  • On the other hand:
    • consider the vulnerable: older adults, people with weak immune systems, and people with chronic health conditions. Coronavirus can be quite severe for them.
    • Consider also the fact that there is currently no treatment and no vaccine.
    • Coronavirus is spreading quickly. Now 9 cases in our region and 3 in Clay.
    • Finally, consider the fact that because we have had relatively few cases compared to places like China and Italy, we actually stand a very good chance of containing Coronavirus in America and avoiding the things that these countries have suffered.
  • Closing our in-person gatherings is an act of love towards the most vulnerable in our congregation, and it is an act of love towards our community.
    • I would hate to think that someone in our church could die because of coming into contact with an illness that someone else thought was a common cold!
  • Esau McCaulley “This remains certain in the ever-shifting narrative of Covid-19: the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus is by social distancing (avoiding large gatherings) and good personal hygiene (washing our hands). The data suggests that what the world needs now is not our physical presence, but our absence. This does not seem like the stuff of legend. What did the church do in the year of our Lord 2020 when sickness swept our land? We met in smaller groups, washed our hands and prayed. Unglamorous as this is, it may be the shape of faithfulness in our time.”
    • These are, in fact, the best things we can do.

Pray

  • Prayer is no small thing. Prayer is a powerful weapon against the schemes of the enemy and the disasters of this world.
    • 1 Kings 8:37-38.
  • President Trump has declared today, March 15th, to be a national day of prayer and our Archbishop, Foley Beach, has urged us to participate.
  • Pray for those who don’t know the peace of Jesus.
    • Wuhan Pastor “Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ. First, we are to seek the peace of Christ to reign in their hearts (Hebrews 3:15).”
  • Pray for healing for those infected with Coronavirus.
    • There is a 58 year old man in our own country who is infected right now.
  • Pray for protection for yourself and all other who have not contracted this virus. Especially health care workers.
  • Pray for God to bring an end to this pestilence.

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