One of the things that separates the rather tedious everyday-ness of coronavirus reports of sickness, deaths, isolation, social distancing, quarantines, supply shortages and unemployment is Sunday! That’s right! Sunday! Oh I know that until a vaccine is developed, we will never escape the agony of covid 19, and probably shouldn’t.
However, for me, Sunday is the oasis in the desert. Actually, it always has been.
Before going further, let me clarify that the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sunday are different and commemorate different events. The Sabbath is the last day of the week and commemorates God’s rest after the toil of creation and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.
On the other hand, for Christians the holiest day of the week is not the seventh day but the first day. Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, and his resurrection was so momentous and decisive that the disciples designated the day “the Lord’s Day.”
So each week those disciples gathered together on the first day to celebrate Christ’s victory. Every Sunday was a resurrection festival and, I may add, still is.
Thus, in the midst of the grave reports of COVID-19 and its usual heartbreaking news, comes Sunday with its Good News of resurrection and hope. Thanks to the faithfulness of the churches and their television and their streaming capabilities, this past Sunday morning I heard three different sermons from ministers in three different denominations. All their messages were a blessing.
First, the good news is that God loves us and is with us! “God is for us, not against us.” You may be thinking, “that’s a simple overused statement.” I agree, but hear me out. Talk to a few of your friends, listen to their thoughts and beliefs on the nature of God, and you’ll understand how they, like you and me, need to hear this familiar truth over and over again.
Writing in his book “Healing of Memories,” David A. Seamands says that most of our failure to love and trust God stems from our pictures of God as unlovable and untrustworthy.”The good news is that God loves us, is with us and is for us.
Second, the good news is that God can turn misfortunes into blessings! There was a dear woman of my acquaintance who was not well. She had lost her husband and her own health was not good. She had to give up some of the activities she enjoyed. She could have had a lot to complain about. But she never did.
When I talked with her, which was fairly often before she died, she always reminded me of her blessings. One day after our conversation I took a piece of paper and wrote on it, “She’s blessed, and she knows it.”
In spite of her difficulties, this friend knew she was blessed and because she knew it, the world was blessed.
Third, the good news is that in the pandemic God is bringing the best out of many! So many heroes are risking their lives and well being to take care and serve the rest of us-physicians, nurses, other hospital personnel, postal workers, teachers, agricultural workers, truck drivers, grocery store employees, EMTs, delivery drivers, pharmacist and pharmacy employees, soldiers and others
Then there are those picking up or ordering groceries for others, those groups preparing food for people in need, those using their talents online to bring a note of cheer, those calling others to share a note of encouragement and the list is long.
At any rate, people are seeking to be a blessing to others.
Fourth, the good news is that there is always hope! The one note that consistently sounds throughout the Scripture like a beautiful refrain is that God abides faithful and is the source of hope.
The psalmist asked, “Why are you cast down, 0 my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God” (psalm 42:5).
Someone once asked a saint of the ages, “What must I do in order to please God?” The saint replied, “Pay attention to what I tell you ... always have God before your eyes.”
That’s it! Even during this pandemic, especially during this pandemic, always have God before your eyes. It will keep you hopeful.
Like you, I never get tired of hearing God’s Good News! No wonder we look forward to Sunday!