Pastor’s Ponderings for September

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Dear Friends in Christ,

As you know, St. Mark’s COVID Task Force recently made the decision to require masking once again during our Sunday morning worship services. On the one hand, this was a difficult decision to make as we are all tired of masking and physically distancing, and none of us want to go back to more restrictions. Still, when we looked at this objectively and simply looked at the data and the advice of local health officials, there was no other clear alternative.

The list of reasons that warranted this decision are many and I won’t attempt to share them in this forum. However, it was not just data and professional medical advice that drove our conversations, and swayed our decision, but also several personal reports of people (both vaccinated and unvaccinated) who have been bedridden or hospitalized with the Delta Variant. Ultimately, our main concern is keeping our members safe and not contributing to the growing problem in our community.

During any difficult time, one of the most challenging things for a Christian to comprehend is how God is at work within the chaos. This can be true for personal disappointments, community tragedies, and yes, even during this time of a worldwide pandemic.

The Bible verse above comes from what biblical scholars call Second Isaiah. Beginning in chapter 40 of Isaiah, a new prophet (Second Isaiah) brings words of comfort to a nation living in exile in Babylon. The prophet assures the people that God will set the captives free and return them to their land. In 538 B.C.E., the Persian ruler Cyrus captured Babylon and allowed the exiles to return home to rebuild their lives and their temple in Jerusalem.

In chapter 45 of Isaiah, God says, “I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness, and I will make all his paths straight; he shall build my city and set my exiles free… (Isaiah 45:13)

God uses actual people to serve God’s intentions. In this case, God used the foreign ruler Cyrus, the king of Persia, to set God’s chosen people free and to bring them home once more.

It is still the same today. God uses men and women to serve God’s purposes. I believe this is true with the fight against the COVID virus. God has used scientists to develop a credible vaccine that has saved countless lives. God has used doctors and nurses to administer the vaccine and to care for patients who have become hospitalized. God uses friends and neighbors to bring people to vaccination clinics, to care for those who are homebound, and to encourage those who are discouraged.

Let’s us continue to do our part to be a positive influence in the community during this difficult time. And when you see someone in need who is discouraged, may you be moved to say, “Do not fear; I will help you.” After all you never know when you may be serving God’s good purpose.

Servants together,

Pastor Bob