Dear brothers and sisters,
In this difficult time of facing the COVID-19 pandemic, when we as a Church (the called-out gathering of God’s people) is isolated and scattered, may we all gather in the presence of God, each in his/her own space, and be united in the Spirit as the universal church. We are still the community of God’s people even though all our activities are suspended. We also should be the shining beacon in a dark world of worry and fear.
The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)) is a prayer that comes to mind at such time of fear and worry, and I have taken the liberty to adapt it for us to meditate on in the midst of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.
“God grant me the serenity
to not be anxious for things that I cannot change;
courage to care (be concerned) and do the things I can,
at this time of the Coronavirus pandemic;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
We see in the first section of this beautiful prayer the combination of three important spiritual qualities: serenity, courage and wisdom. Indeed, we need God to first grant us “serenity,” that is, real peace, in this pandemic that is affecting all our lives.
First of all, “serenity” is granted by God. He is the Lord of the universe, of history and the Lord of our lives. He is the creator of all things, and He is sovereign over all, including the negative things that is happening and have happened throughout history. Above all, God so loved the world, that He gave us His Son to die for us so we may have life, life abundant. Christ is our Saviour, our Sanctifier, our Healer, and our Coming King. The four-fold gospel we have assures all of us who follow Christ that we all have hope, ultimate hope, even in the midst of deep despair and crisis that we have no control over.
Jesus clearly assures the disciples (and us) while preparing them before he goes on his road to Calvary, “…that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) In fact, Jesus has said a little earlier, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid.” (Jn. 14:27) It is interesting to note that after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, when he appeared to Thomas and the other disciples, he said, “Peace be with you.” (Jn. 20:26) Having given the Great Commission to the disciples, Jesus reassures us again, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (MT. 28:20b) Need we say more? Shalom!
Rev. Simon Lee