March 12, 2020
A Sermon from Richard B. Hanna
Kirkwood by the River
Proverbs 31-6: “My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;
2 for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. 3 Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
Are those words we need to hear in our nation and world right now?
Indeed, they are. Because there are things happening around us that seem to be getting more and more serious every day.
Thankfully, we live in a good place called Kirkwood by the River where the leadership and staff are doing a wonderful job to keep us safe and healthy.
And thankfully, we live in a remarkable nation where our leaders and medical professionals are doing all they can to keep us safe – along with so many others throughout the world.
Now, some people might have the attitude that “God’s in charge and He will take care of all of this. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve always done and trust that God will sort out this mess.”
But friends, I think most of us know that that is not a responsible attitude. Even as we trust in God we’ve got to do our part to live responsibly.
And so today I want to suggest some things we can do – or attitudes that we can embrace as we deal with what’s going around us. Some of them are common sense – but common sense based on principles in Scripture – and that Scripture calls to do and believe. Trust in God BUT use the abilities and gifts he has given us.
So here we go on how we as Christians and people of faith can best respond to the reality of the Coronavirus that is a challenge in a world right now.
- First, as I just said, let’s use the brains that God gives us to make good decisions and live carefully and thoughtfully in these times. Because God has equipped us tremendously well to do so.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are made in the image of God. It also tells us that God has given us dominion over the world and creation He made for us and that we are to be stewards of it. “Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.” It’s like God is saying, “I made it. I made you. But now I’m putting you in charge of my amazing creation!”
And Psalm 8 tells us that that we are “just a little lower than God.” And Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
We’ve all heard this quote: “We trust in God. All others pay cash.” Today we could add to that statement, “We trust in God but please wash your hands.”
And so there are simple things that we can do – like washing our hands regularly, like not going to work when you’re sick, like avoiding unnecessary physical contact. Do an elbow bump instead of a handshake, blow a kiss instead of giving a kiss, place your hand over your heart instead of giving a hug.
And here at Kirkwood our leadership has put into place measures that will help to keep us safe and beyond Kirkwood there are remarkable efforts being made to keep the virus from spreading and in labs all over the world there are people working hard to develop vaccines against it.
You see, friends, God has equipped us with amazing minds – and over the eons humankind has used those minds to transform the world.
You see, the Bible tells us that without vision the people will perish. (Pr. 29:18) And so throughout history it has been people who have imagined great things and important things that have made the world a better and safer place.
And so we have mobile phones and computers and rockets that will take us into space and back. And so we have the flu vaccine and the polio vaccine and modern medical technology.
The other day one of our residents shared about growing up and worrying every day about contracting the polio virus.
But thank goodness and thank God for a man named Jonas Salk, along with others, who developed the polio vaccine and whose work has saved countless lives from when it was first approved for use in 1955.
And so, friends, as we face challenging times, let us use the brains and the gifts that God has given us to create a better and safer world – and encourage those who are working on our behalves to do the same.
- Second, as we deal with this medical issue in our world and nation, let’s continue to work together, with collegiality and in harmony, to respond to it. That seems to be happening as medical professionals from all over the world are working together to deal with this issue. And let us continue to pray for God’s guidance upon those who are doing that critical work.
That is often a positive thing that often comes out of times of crisis in our nation and world. World War II was an example of that. So was 911. The world pulled together to deal with a threat that would impact all of us.
Psalm 133:1 tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” And when they work together in unity.
May that continue in the days and weeks and months to come.
- Third, let’s continue to have a positive attitude as we deal with this issue. Yes, we do need to take it seriously but if we become negative or defeatist in our attitude about it, we help no one.
Part of that positive attitude is having grace and patience as we deal with things and with others. All of us have to make changes and sacrifices in how we are living our lives. And we might not like decisions others are making to keep our communities safe. In those times we can get bitter and angry – but I assure you, that will not help.
I loved one of the statements made at a meeting about this: “Let’s be kind, let’s be courteous and let’s be patient.”
And the Bible reminds us of another tool we have as we deal with health issues: “A cheerful heart is good medicine. But a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”
And so, even as we take this issue seriously and as we use our brains and resources to deal with it, that cheerful heart can help us to face our challenges with a more positive attitude.
Here’s one of those positive tools to help us smile even as we find our lives inconvenienced. How long should you wash your hands to get it done correctly?
As long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday twice.
But last night I saw a video that gave a new measure of how long we should wash our hands. Wash your hands as long as it takes you to sing the Gloria Patri very slowly. “Glory be to the father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost . . .” That way you’re cleaning your hands and praising God at the same time!
And none of us like watching the stock market go down but here’s a little humor that might lighten the sting of that.
Q: What’s the best way to make a small fortune in the stock market?
A. Start off with a big one.
And listen to this Stock Market Report:
“Helium was up, feathers were down. Paper was stationary. Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up sharply. Pencils lost a few points. Hiking equipment was trailing. Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline. Weights were up in heavy trading. Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remained unchanged. The market for raisins dried up. Balloon prices were inflated. And toilet paper touched a new bottom.”
Yes, a cheerful heart is good medicine – even in challenging times! So, as we deal with this issue may that cheerful heart be in our arsenal of medication to treat it.
- And here’s a fourth thing we need to remember in a time like this. Let’s show compassion and grace to those around us who also are dealing with this.
– First, compassion for those who have contracted the disease or who have lost loved ones because of it. Or those whose incomes may be threatened by this. As much as we may be inconvenienced by this, let’s remember that many others have lots more to deal with.
– Second, let’s show grace towards those who are figuring out how best to deal with this – our leaders at a national level and state level or even here at Kirkwood. They’re all doing their best in a challenging and changing situation. Let’s not make is worse by challenging or criticizing every decision made and by graciously accepting the inconveniences that we may have to learn to live with.
- And finally, through all of this, let us trust that God is with us in this awful time.
Now it’s hard doing that sometimes. Challenging times like these sometimes cause us to wonder, “Where are You, God?”
David himself cried out in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord? How long will You hide Your face from me?”
And even Jesus on the cross cried out in his moment of despair, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
But friends, Jesus’ promise to us is that, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” and “Lo, I am with you always.”
And Psalm 28:7 declares, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts.”
So, even when there are things going on around us
that frighten us or challenge us, let’s remember that God is still with us and that he will give us strength – and that we are in His care and keeping – and that He will give us the ultimate victory.
And here’s an interesting thought. Have you ever wondered where the name “Corona” in Coronavirus came from. Well, “corona” comes from the Latin word meaning “crown” which comes from the ancient Greek word “Korone.” Apparently, the virus has little things all around it that look like crowns.
So, here is our question as we deal with this Coronavirus as people of faith: Are we going to be subdued into defeat by this crown of darkness, this challenge to the mortal flesh – or are we going to claim victory over this virus as those who have been given the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and the CROWN OF LIFE?!!!
Friends, I know WHAT CROWN I’M GOING TO CLAIM AS I LIVE AS A CHILD OF THE LORD OF LORD’S AND THE KING OF KINGS!!!
As the words of one of my favorite hymns puts it: “Crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon his throne. Hark how the heavenly anthem drown all music but its own. Awake my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee, and hail Him as thy matchless King, though all eternity!”
And let us always cling boldly to these wonderful words from Romans 8:35-39 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . ” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor viruses, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
MAY WE CLING TO THAT PROMISE AS WE FACE THIS CHALLENGING TIME AND IN EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE!!!!
Let us pray: Almighty God, help us to trust in You and then use the gifts and the guidance that You give us to face every challenge in life. And as we do help us to live with hope and confidence that You will always give us the victory as we faithfully live our lives as your disciples. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Closing Hymn: Crown Him With Many Crowns: 45