Sermon Sunday May 10th 2020 Mother’s Day

he “bonus track” for Sunday is “The Old Country Church,”  https://youtu.be/b6xZ3k7yHNM
May God’s grace, love, and mercy be with you today and for ever more!

A New Life for a Time of Pandemic

“Get a life!”  You heard it, or you said it.  It is a well know idiom expressing the idea that there is life and then, there is life.  There is life being caught up in one’s or someone else’s trivial matters or there is life to address things that really matter in life.  There is life being caught in the rat race or there is life to race towards what truly is valuable in life.

Today, perhaps, “I want to get a life” may be a more appropriate idiom to describe our present situation in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Never mind the long commute, the bossy boss, or the cranky customer.  Even children who love visiting parents during school breaks are already itching to go back to college life – never mind college chow or boring classes!

You are at home, with no social life, battling against poor internet connections, the children horse-playing while you are in a Zoom meeting, the dog howling to a tree, and hearing the neighbors yelling to each other.  You had it!   You want to get back to “normal.”

For those who have been for what it appears an eternity through this shadowy and menacing valley which is the Covid-19 pandemic let me offer you some good news.  No!  No “snake-oil-good-news,” but real good news.

In the Gospel of John, we are told the story of Jesus dealing with his disciples’ grief in knowing that their long-hoped tomorrow of vindication and triumph appeared to be off the table.  Rather, now they were facing an uncertain and unclear future and even worse, away from whom they trusted and followed.

“Don’t be worried!  Have faith in God and have faith in me,”  Jesus said.  In other words, “I’ve got this.”  Jesus knew that the final scene of His life was not at the Cross, but what laid before Him was a struggle like none other.  Yet, Jesus trusted God for His own future.  And as Jesus was trusting His Father for His own future, He invited His friends to do the same – “Trust God and trust me.  We are all in good hands.”

As difficult to believe and as unwarranted it may appear, we too are in God’s loving hands.  In the midst of the unprecedented upheaval that we are going through, our future is secure in God’s hands.  “I’ve got this” Jesus said to His disciples, “For I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Many of us, now facing an uncertain and unclear future filled with “Ifs,” “Whens,” and “Hows,” Jesus offers words of hope and peace, inspiring us to move ahead with peace, knowing that even if we are on uncharted waters, still Jesus knows our way back home.

Why?  Because, in fact, Jesus is the Way.  Our Savior’s Truth is not fake or make believe.  If He invites us to trust in Him is not to pull the rug from under us.  What Jesus offers to those who trust in Him is Life, with capital “L.”  Not life spent in someone else’s trivial matters, but life spent in what really matters to God: “To do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” (Micah 6:8).  Life not spent in a rat race but knowing what we are running for – In the words of St Paul, “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back,” (Philippians 3:14).

Lord Jesus, you invited your disciples to trust God and to trust You:  Send your Holy Spirit to kindle in our hearts the fire of your love, safe and secure that we are the beloved children of your and our Heavenly Father.  Amen.

I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.

I am sure that by now you have heard from our government officials that some restrictions have been lifted, in particular for houses of worship.  At the same time, I trust that you have not missed their words of caution, for Covid-19 is still with us, with no immunity, no clear cut treatment or vaccines and, certainly, as dangerous and mortal as ever.

You may be wondering what our next steps would be and when are we going to open again.  First, we need to hear from our bishops and the guidance they will be offering, not just FYI, but to follow.  Last week Bishop’s Susan sent a letter to Clergy and Vestries outlining guidelines, including the need to seek specific permission to reopen.  For the time being, the ball is on their court.  But I am ready to respond as soon as I hear from the Diocese.  And I am sure you are as well.

Both our Bishop – our chief pastor – and I share a common vocation:  “To care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd,” (1 Peter 5:2) knowing that you are God’s beloved children, an special treasure of His.  So, our next steps will be informed both by science and our mandate to be accountable to God for your well-being and prospering.

We all are itching to go back to our “Old Normal.”  But Covid-19 has deeply affected the economic and social fabric of our nation.  The “Old Normal” is gone for good.  So, what’s next?

Some believe that our new normal will be marked by social restrictions and, at least for a good while, by the virus continued onslaught.  Others offer a doom and gloom outlook for the next years, marked by high mortality ratio and a deep economic stagnation.  And all that may be true.

But I believe that in the midst of all the challenges we may be called to face, there is an unprecedented outpouring of God’s love, grace, and mercy.  There has never been a time where millions of people have seen and heard the Good News through social media, many perhaps for the first time.  Churches have banded together to serve those in need and to support the doctors, nurses, aides, and first responders who are on the front lines.  Paraphrasing a little bit, “When the going gets tough, God gets going.”

I believe that St David’s will experience new growth and blessings and that many will come to join us in the worship of the God of our salvation, and to receive the heavenly balm of God’s love that you so faithfully have ministered all along these years.  You are the people of the resurrection.  But not only for the sweet by and by, but for the here and now.

When the people of Israel finally returned from their captivity, they had a huge task in front of them.  They needed to rebuild their cities and, more to the point, they were sent back to their homeland to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem.  To the small band who committed themselves to rebuild the House of the Lord, God encouragingly said, “Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much?  But is anything too much for me?  Not if I have my say,” (Zechariah 8:6).  And so be it with us.  Amen.

 

Fr. Gustavo,
The Rev. T. G. Mansella, Vicar
St. David’s Church
PO Box 125
11291 West River Road
Aylett, VA 23009-0125
+1 804 496 1002