Feeling Anxious

March 26, 2020

“Feeling Anxious…”

 

I’m curious how anxious everyone’s been feeling with everything that’s been going on.  I suspect this has been stretching everyone in ways we might not always want to be stretched in. 

 

I’ve been trying to figure out what doing church from home looks like.  I’ve been reading all kinds of e-mails and social media postings, I’ve watched a few churches service that have been live streamed to see what others have been doing, I even learned how to do a Zoom meeting online.  But there was a time yesterday, when it suddenly felt like it was all too much.  I realized I was feeling overwhelmed and I had to shut it all off and just be still. 

 

The words Aaron shared a couple of weeks ago at the start of our last service together came to my mind.  “Be still and know that I am God.”  That’s exactly what I had to do.  I had to just be still for a bit and remember that God still has all of this in His hand.  I needed to rest in His presence.

 

Those words, “Be still and know”, come from Psalm 46.  It’s a Psalm that offers incredible comfort in times like this.  In Psalm 46, the world of the Psalmist is collapsing.  It talks about the earth giving way, the seas crashing, the mountains themselves being shaken and falling into the sea.   It mentions nations being in uproar, kingdoms falling, the earth melting away.  And yet, even with everything it describes, it is a Psalm of comfort.  It begins and ends with a reminder that our God is with us through it all. It begins like this, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  and it ends with the words, “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  And then, in verse 10, there’s the reminder to be still and know that God is still God.  That He is still on the throne…that He’s still in control.  And nothing can ever change that.

 

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of that truth sometimes…especially lately. 

           

The Psalm is really an invitation to us to be still, even in the middle of the storm. It’s an invitation to bring all of our anxieties and fears and frustrations to Him…and find rest. 

 

I wonder how you are doing at that?  It’s not always easy.  Especially with all the news flying around and all the restrictions that are in place and the many ways they are affecting our lives.  I know I’m starting to feel that isolation.  Sara and I would love invite you over for supper, or to go out to your places.  But we can’t.  

 

I’m not sure what you’ve been doing to help manage the feelings that may have been swirling around in your heart lately.  I’ve gone for a few walks.  Every day after lunch, I’ve been taking the girls outside for lunch recess.  We’ve started singing a few songs after breakfast.  We’re trying to get some exercise in the evenings.  These are all good things, but as good as they are, there’s something else that is far more important.  We need to find our rest in Him.

 

If you’re feeling anxious.  I want to encourage you to hear God’s invitation again today, “Be still and know that I am God”  May we trust in His goodness, His love, His power…and His presence with us.  May we find our rest in Him again today. 
 

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us;  the God of Jacob is our fortress.”       Psalm 46:10,11  



On Sunday We Go to Church.

March 20, 2020

“On Sunday We Go To Church Together”

That’s the title of a poem written in the 25th anniversary book of Rocky First CRC in 1975.  Someone placed this book into my mailbox last Sunday at church and as I was flipping through it the other day, I was struck by its title.  The poem tells the story of the early days of our church and each of the poem’s 7 stanzas ends with a variation of the title, stressing that no matter what was going on in their lives, “On Sundays, they went to church together.”  Obviously, this week, we are not going to church together and it feels wrong.  Even more so when the reality settles in that this could be for a while. 

We are all well aware of the many changes this week has brought as our government has taken serious measures to limit the spread of this virus.  And those measures are affecting all of us in various ways.  If you’re like me, you’ve watched a lot of news in the last week.  News of restrictions, news of projections, news of people’s reactions to this new reality.  It’s not hard to see that for many, this has produced a lot of fear.  Some afraid of getting sick and the implications of this virus on themselves or their loved ones.  Others more afraid of how all the shut downs and cancellations are going to affect their family and their livelihood.  Will they be able to make ends meet or will this be the final straw after a few years of tough economic times. Others are afraid of how long this will last and whether or not even more serious restrictions will be imposed on us. 

I want to acknowledge that those fears are valid, but I also want to remind us of the many times that God’s Word tells us, “Do Not Be Afraid!” He says those words to Abraham in Gen 15 when he questioned God’s promise of an heir.  He said those words to Moses as he went to speak to Pharaoh, He spoke them to Joshua as he led God’s people forward into the promised land.  He spoke them to His people through the prophets and kings again and again.  He spoke them through Jesus and the apostles…and He speaks them to us today as well.  “Do not be afraid.”  This might last a while.  But God is still on the throne.  Covid-19 has not caught Him by surprise.  I think of the story of Peter walking on water to Jesus on the stormy sea.  As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he could walk.  But when he looked away, and put his focus on the storm, he began to sink.  Let’s be sure to keep our eyes on Jesus even as we wash our hands and make wise decisions about limiting our social interactions.

We may not be able to go to church together, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the church.  The church has never been a building or simply what usually happens on Sunday mornings.   The church is the people who make up the body of Christ.  In a very real way, the challenge for us over these next weeks, is to be intentional about being the church for one another, even if it looks different.  Think of those around you who might be isolated.  Both in the church and in our community.  Call them, send them a card, hold them up in prayer.  Let them know they matter and are not forgotten.  Ask if there are practical ways you can help them.  This is an opportunity for us to love our neighbours in tangible ways. 

Most of us suddenly find ourselves with a bit more time on our hands.  It feels like everything has been cancelled.  My prayer is that we will use this time well.  May we not just lose ourselves in TV or the news, but may we be intentional about spending time together.  Pray that the relationships we have with those closest to us would grow deeper, even though there will likely be some stressful times too.  May we find creative ways to be the church with our families. Let’s read God’s Word and spend time in prayer.  Let’s pray that God would draw us closer to Him. 

Over these next weeks, I pray that we would realize in a new way, what a gift it is to be able to gather as a church.  I know that’s a gift I have often taken for granted.   I already look forward to the next time we can come together, and I anticipate we will do so with a renewed sense of joy…and a new realization and appreciation of the gift of community.   

In the meantime, may the LORD bless you and keep you.  May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  May He turn His face toward you and give you His peace, both now and always.  And may all of us together say, “Amen!”