Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11
“Look for the helpers…”
Fred (Mr.) Rogers (Quoting his mother)
There is rarely a shortage of things to be afraid of in this world. In the last few weeks, there have been an abundance of invitations to fear. Chief among the present anxieties are the increasing reports of new cases in new locations of the coronavirus. I do not know what the future holds but I do know that there is no place that God is not with us. I do not know how widespread this virus will be in the weeks and months to come but I do know that there is no future in which Jesus is not Lord.
We do not know what may be next but we can learn from what has come before.
One hundred years ago during the Spanish Influenza pandemic people at First Methodist Houston opened a small 30 bed hospital to treat and care for the suffering. The next twenty years brought the Great Depression, the Second World War, and a host of other challenges but the mission to offer healing and hope endured. In 2019, the Houston Methodist System had 8 locations, nearly 24,000 employees, and has treated well over a million patients. The present scale and scope disguise the powerful truth that an enormous and vital institution began in a desperate season in the hearts of people of a local church willing to serve. It is often not the challenges we face but how people respond to them that define the legacy they hand down to those who come after them.
We are not called as Christians to look for suffering but when suffering comes we are called to look for God. We are not called to search for obstacles but when obstacles get in the way of us or our neighbors; we are called to see opportunities to serve in the strength that God provides. We are not a people who pretend that every day is easy and every moment is free from pain instead, we are a people who proclaim in grief, in pain, and the darkest of valleys God is with us. We are not people called to prolong life as long as possible; we are people called to proclaim the defeat of death and abundant life in Jesus Christ.
Like everyone else, we are washing our hands and watching the news. You may notice modified greeting options during our services, sealed single serving communion available, and the hand sanitizer throughout our facility. We are praying for the helpers and looking to serve our neighbors and neighborhoods. What will God call out of his people in this season? What will God gives us the strength to do if we offer ourselves in service?
We will not be shaped by fear because God is with us. Let us now, as always, speak and serve so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and power forever and ever,