People are still worried about COVID-19, people are unemployed, there are still food shortages, recent deaths have sparked protests that unfortunately some have used as an excuse to loot. We are in very difficult and unprecedented times. We have been through many of these things before, but never like this, all at once. At least it seems that way to me.
So where do we turn? We should be turning to God. Recently, George Floyd’s family held a memorial service for him in North Carolina. I saw that it was live on Youtube by numerous stations, so I decided to watch. It was wonderful, beautiful and spiritual. It was held in a Baptist church. They were praising God at the beginning of the service, including his family members. Many people came to speak on George’s behalf. Even some of the non-clergy speakers still expressed more faith than I have heard many people speak at a funeral. I really appreciated how the Rev. Clinton Stackhouse said that while man might speak initially, God would have the final word and He did through Rev. Dr. Christopher Stackhouse (son of Clinton).
You can find the entire service online if you search for it. Rev. Stackhouse reminded us over and over again of personal things, to help people remember that was not just another statistic, but a man, a good man, a “gentle giant,” a “banana-and-mayonnaise sandwich” type of guy. He had the nickname "Perry Jr." We can’t forget George and we need to do something about the racial problems that plague us.
St. George’s sang this hymn, “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,” a few weeks ago. I had preached that day as well and normally I look at the hymns for the day to see if they might help me to illuminate God’s Word. I did not feel that it would, but that day was also a NationalDay of Prayer. We are a praying church and we spent more time in prayer than we normally do.
This hymn was our recessional. As we processed out, it hit me how appropriate this hymn is for us at this time. We often just sing the hymn and enjoy it for the moment, but how often do you meditate on the words? Consider it sometime. It is a worthwhile exercise.
1 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your powerful hand. Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore, feed me now and evermore.
If you are a Christian, you have a dual citizenship.
Philippians 3:20 (ESV) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
In addition to being an American, you are also a citizen of Heaven. Therefore, in God’s eyes, you are only a pilgrim in this land. We must seek his guidance on a regular basis. Some days will be better than others. Sometimes you will be weak, but it is good to remember that God will get you through the tough times. Paul had many tough times to deal with.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul was strong, because God is strong. Likewise God through the Holy Spirit will help us in this pandemic. He will help the nation through this time of social strife. I am white and many of the people in St. Georges are white. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see what God would have us do at this time? We have raised money in the past for good causes. Do you remember the black churches that were burned over 10 years ago? No, well here is the list. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_attacks_against_African-American_churches
Evil is present in this world and we need to pray against the forces of darkness that would divide us along racial, ethnic, or any other lines. Remember that the hymn says: I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your powerful hand.
We know that in the end, God wins. In the meantime, we need to persevere, we need to pray. For our elderly, we need to pray for protection. We seem to be past the worst of the pandemic, but with all of the protests, people are gathering in large numbers and we must pray that they stay safe. Hear me in this, our nation is founded on the right to assemble and protest, so I applaud them for doing so, because they are risking their health. But, I also hope that they are being careful. With the protests, we need to pray for real change. We need to pray that this time we get it right. Let’s turn back to the hymn:
2 Open now the crystal fountain, where the healing waters flow. Let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through. Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, ever be my strength and shield, ever be my strength and shield.
We need healing, especially as a nation. Pray for guidance. Pray for healing. While we don’t have the pillar of fire and cloud, we do have the Holy Spirit who is with all of us, no matter where we are. He is a Strong Deliverer. This reminds me of:
Psalm 91:7 (ESV)
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
This is called the Soldier’s Psalm because of the language and while it might not have been written by David, he certainly chose to include it in his psalms. This can be our prayer at this time, especially at it seems that the number of cases might be going up in states other than our own. We can pray that we are spared this virus.
3 When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside. Death of death, and hell's Destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side. Songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever sing to you, I will ever sing to you.
I am sure that many are praying that their “anxious fears subside.” What will tomorrow hold? I cannot guarantee that you will not get the virus or that there won’t be looting in New Jersey, although I think we are past the worst of it. I cannot guarantee that things won’t get worse economically.
What I can assure you of is that Jesus has destroyed death. He had paid the sin price that would have kept us out of heaven. Because of that we are citizens of heaven if you believe and confess like it says in Romans 10:9. Songs of praises should be our response. God has us. Stay the course. Keep the faith. Be a witness to your faith especially now.
Matthew 5:3-10 English Standard Version (ESV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.