I have heard that phrase so much over these last few weeks that I have begun to think that it is a new newspaper “The Unprecedented Times.” I know that nothing like this has happened in my lifetime and because of that, I find that I am constantly second guessing myself, asking if I have the proper attitude or perspective about the situation in which we find ourselves.
Recently Kim shared with me a quote from a letter that Martin Luther wrote in 1527 that gives real insight into our predicament. During this time in Wittenberg, there was another outbreak of the Plague. Students at the university where Martin Luther taught were fleeing the city. A friend wrote asking Martin’s advice on the matter. This was his response:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash no foolhardy and does not tempt God.” (Luther’s Works Volume 43, pg. 132; the letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess.)
As we seek to navigate these times, I think this perspective is particularly helpful. Do all that we can to mitigate the disease, but do not live in fear. When given the opportunity, seek to minister to people in God’s name. There are many creative ways we can do this. Our youth are shopping for some of our older members. Our Deacons are sending notes of encouragement.
Many of you are calling people that might need to hear hopeful words. The Prayer Shawl ministry is still doing their wonderful work. (If you want to knit one, please contact Patricia Stout at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 714-875-1009.) Others have made themselves available to help with chores. There are many other ways you are reaching out to others that you and God know, not just among our family at TPC, but in your neighborhoods as well.
As we go through our days, know that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God and let us strive to share that love as much as possible with the people God brings to our minds and across our paths. In the meantime, stay safe, join us for worship and coffee fellowship on Sundays at www.tustinpresbyterian.org and know that though we may be separated, we are connected through our risen Lord.
Because of Christ,
Steve Ranney, Pastor