62 The next day(Saturday of Holy Week), that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor(Jesus) said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Greetings and peace to you my friends!
You and I are now living in “a foreign land.” Everything “looks” the same. Most things “seem” the same. Yet, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives! While nearly every aspect of our lives have “changed” recently to create this “foreign land”, the promises of our God to love us, to walk with us along the way, to offer us grace, mercy, forgiveness and the capacity to change, these things remain steadfast.
Your community of faith is trying to remain steadfast to all of you also. Our leadership and our staff are working diligently on behalf of our God and with each of you in our thoughts and prayers as we journey through this foreign land. As you are keenly aware, many adjustments have occurred to our “normal practices.” Yet, there is a true beauty and a sense of God’s presence in all these adjustments.
I share with you, our great joy that our sisters and brothers from St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church are drawing closer to us during this time period. The resources of our sister congregation will help all of us in this time. We will be conducting our “live streaming” worship inviting St. John’s Windish to join us. Pastor Trump will be offering reflections and services not only to the people of St. John’s Windish but will also be extending herself to the people of the UPG.
I know there is an overload of information about all the adjustments that are occurring, so please allow me to offer this brief theological reflection with each of you.
The above Scripture comes in the middle of the time after Jesus had been crucified and before His glorious resurrection. There is very little Scripture available to share details into how the followers of Jesus acted during this time period. We know that they had fear and “quarantined” themselves in hopes that they wouldn’t also be prosecuted by the religious leaders. But I imagine that during this time of great anxiety they must have been pondering the “new time” they were living in. “What would their lives look like without Jesus?” “What will happen in the coming hours, the coming days, weeks…?” “How can I/we manage during this time?”
It feels to me, at least a little bit, like some of the comments, questions, and concerns I’ve been receiving from my sisters and brothers in Christ over the course of the last week. Perhaps we would be well served to look anew at Holy Scripture and realize that the time the disciples were passing through lasted three days. What must have felt like an eternity for those who were going through this time, really lasted three days before they began to receive word of Jesus’ resurrection.
My sisters and brothers, the time that we are passing through, while it will be longer than three days, is indeed a temporary time! We will come through this time prayerfully with a renewed passion and dedication not only in our faith, but also with a new appreciation for the community of faith which surrounds us. We will come through this time knowing that even now, our God is walking with us and among us! We will come through this time rendering comfort, support, affirmation, and aid to those who are in need as we are able. We will come through this time and we will gather in person again, and we can anticipate the joy and glory that is coming our way!
All these things our God has given to us! Praise be to God! The One Who created this world and all that is in the world! Praise be to God! The One Who redeemed this world offering us steadfast love in all times and in all places! Praise be to God! The One Who continues to inspire, uplift, and sanctify us all!
But for now, “Do not be afraid!” for God is doing something new!
Trust our God,
Wash Your hands,
Be safe and be at peace for the Lord is with us!