HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH
A Daily Dose of Good News
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/zMZ_rVUIs2k
and will remain available throughout the day and the week.
Good morning! It’s Vicar Sara. It is March 31st, so the last day of March, get ready to prank somebody tomorrow! Alright, today our text is from Ephesians, it is 2:1-10.
“You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, just like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
Here ends the reading.
So, in thinking about this text for today, I was struck by the differences of the previous life and the current life, right? The previous life is the life where basically we’re on automatic pilot and we’re acting in ways that are dead, even though we don’t realize it, it seems. And we’re following along on these ways that aren’t very life-giving. Then there’s this new life that Christ brings that flips the whole thing upside down and transforms it, and in that new life, we are alive in Christ, we are saved- not that we did anything to deserve it, not that we even caused it. It’s just a gift! Just a gift- that this world has been turned upside down and we’ve gone from this death experience to this “being alive” experience with God, “seated” with God, “in the heavenly places” with God- in this life-giving new reality. So, as I was thinking about that, I know historically, we used to use the initials B.C. for “before Christ” and A.D. for “after the death”. Now we use B.C.E.- “before the common era” and A.C.E.- “after the common era.” But I was kind of going back and forth and thinking about this B.C. and A.D. and just how transformative Christ was in that experience. Christ just changed everything. Christ changed people’s outlooks. Christ changed people’s day-to-day experience. Christ changed their understanding of the world. And in a strange, maybe way…I started thinking about how our lives, right now, are so different. For a different reason, but right now, we have the previous way we existed, right? Which was “before COVID-19”, “before the coronavirus”, and once that ends, we’re going to have “after the disease”- how our life continues on from there. But right now we’re living in this very different way of life, which is not at all on automatic pilot, and we are no longer following our regular patterns of what that used to look like. We’re living in a very different experience.
So, what has happened in that transformative moment? I think some very interesting things have happened, which lead us to that end verse which is: “For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Our current way of life, right now, is very centered around those we care about, those we have relationships with and those we love. I think that goes across the spectrum, whether you are sheltering in place with your family- maybe that’s parents, maybe that’s kids, maybe that’s a spouse, or maybe you live alone and there’s nobody that’s in your space- maybe you’re in assisted living, maybe you’re a single person- but even in that, we’re typically reaching- we’re calling our kids, we’re calling our parents. We’re oriented now, very much towards looking at those relationships that are meaningful and making connections with them and checking on them. I have been thinking about how even our empathy has grown through this experience. There’s been many more conversations considering the poor, considering those who have needs- like needing food, considering the needs of the medical staff who are on the front lines and how they are repetitively caring for us over and over again in such transformative and loving ways. I was thinking about the empathy that we have with other people’s situations. I’ve heard people say to me this week, “I feel bad for the high school kids who might be missing prom or might be not enjoying the experiences of graduation”. And these are people who don’t have high school kids, but yet they’re empathizing with a completely different group than they’re normally around. I’ve heard younger people say “I feel badly for the people in assisted living who can’t have visitors right now”. And that’s not something we particularly maybe empathized with before. So, it’s interesting to me that the coronavirus, while it is very different than Christ, and please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that they are at all the same thing. They both have been transformative events, transformative moments in our time. But the coronavirus brings illness, brings potential death. Christ brings something really different: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. So somehow, Christ comes and brings life, even into places which seem like they’re shrouded in death, that they’re shrouded in heaviness, even in something as dark as the coronavirus, Christ still is bringing life into that! Christ is bringing transformation. Christ is bringing us reorienting around things like our relationships with other people and our faith. Churches have had to work really hard to maintain connections and to reach out to their congregations in ways that are no longer following along the typical path, but finding new ways to connect and life-giving ways that are meaningful and that are connective. So, I’m thankful today for the fact that Christ comes, and brings life- in all places, to orient all of us to new ways of operating that jar us out of our old ways of existence and create in us new ways of living that seem to be more empathic, more loving and more relationally oriented- the way God always wants us to be. And that, that happens through Christ, not that we can do it on our own, through any stretch of the imagination. But, God can.
Have a good day everybody. Bye-bye.
– Vicar Sara