Every day that goes by during this pandemic brings a new set of numbers, reports, opinions, plans, sorrows, and sometimes even words of hope. Trying to keep up with all of it is overwhelming. Taking a news-fast helps, but every driveway conversation with our neighbors as we walk the dog brings new information and more speculation into our thoughts.
The lectionary passage for the second week of Eastertide absolutely nails it. Again, the ability for the lectionary to speak directly into our situation continues to blow me away. I was accused of cherry-picking my texts (which I don’t do, if you understand how the lectionary works.) But if I was a cherry-picker, honey, I’d have picked this bright red cherry for us today:
Acts 2 (The Message)
22-28 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.
What jumps out immediately is that Jesus was following the DELIBERATE and WELL-THOUGHT-OUT plan of God. That took me back to an earlier lectionary passage where we discovered Paul’s words of encouragement to persevere as we run this race, which is “already marked out” for us. We take that to mean that this pandemic has a beginning, a course of moving forward, and a finish line. There is hope in that! Every day we are one day closer to the end, thanks be to God.
Today we are reminded that God’s plan for dealing with this is deliberate and well-thought-out. Jesus followed it. So should we.
Did you know that God’s plan includes the death of death? He untied the death ropes from Jesus, and death was no match for him!
David said it all:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you’ll never dump me in Hades;
I’ll never even smell the stench of death.
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around.
I would love for us to make David’s words our prayer. Pray this today if you need a little boost:
“Gracious and Loving God,
Today I have decided that nothing can shake me. YOU are right by my side.
Knowing this brings me gladness from the inside-out!
And so today, I will choose to pitch my tent in the land of HOPE.
I know that I will not be abandoned to the hell of death, because You have my feet walking the path of light.
Father, I raise my joy-bright face toward heaven and loudly proclaim:
NOT TODAY, SATAN. Amen.“
Thank you for pitching your tent next to mine. Together, we will get through this.