Hymn- Jesus Loves Me
Violeta is on the blog this morning!
If you feel led to continue to contribute financially to Ada Chapel during this time, offerings can be mailed to our treasurer at 2418 Wilson Rd. Wilmington, OH 45177.
Ross and Violeta. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, grocery stores workers, and other essential workers. Our neighborhood and our community. Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Our leaders in all levels of government. People in the recovery community. Parents of small children, and parents who will be homeschooling for the rest of the school year. Everyone who is feeling discouraged. All of those who have lost jobs, or who are struggling financially during this time.
Hymn- Rock of Ages
Meditative Moment (Followed by silent worship)
Proverbs 4:23: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:20-27 English Standard Version (ESV)
20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
We are living a deeply troubling time that is unpredictable and unclear. Nobody in the world has a map that would show how to navigate through the Covid-19 terrain. We are struggling through the thicket daily and are lucky to arrive to the place of rest without major injuries. Ten years from now or even later, we’ll be able to compare our stories of losses and survival. Meanwhile it’s a grueling battle.
There are no exceptions, including Ross and me. Just yesterday we arrived home at 3am from a second visit to the ER in the last few weeks. Nothing drastic yet, just general decline which is hard for him and for us both. We are managing so far and appreciate your prayers. We are just one family going through Covid-19, while the health is declining and the larger family is out of reach. As a Hospice Chaplain, I am in touch daily with 50 similar families in my Team patients’ pool. Referring to Paul (2 Cor 4:7-9), we are afflicted in every way, we are driven to despair, struck down, sometimes perplexed, but we are not destroyed, at least not yet. God is with us! He is keeping company, keeping vigil, shedding tears with us, hoping with us, praying with us. On the way home from the ER at 3am last night, I was wholeheartedly praying to God to help Ross make the two steps from the garage into the house without him falling or me braking my back. We made it. I am sure God was there holding him as he pushed off one stem onto the other and the knees didn’t buckle. God is good and He is with us! (I did promise to God that if we move to another house closer to the family it will be as flat as a pancake, no steps!)
God gave us the proverbs through king Solomon, a true wise man, 700 years before Jesus’ life on the planet. Before and after that, people have experienced afflictions, illnesses and disasters. In Proverb 4 God did not instruct us to become fierce and ferocious, to grow thick skin, to make weapons that no one could defeat. He said “23 Keep your heart with all vigilance” – guard your heart! Watch what is going on within your heart. This is not about the organ of the heart, but the heart of our being, the place where “that of God” is, as our Quaker faith teaches, the seat of God’s intelligence within us. God is asking us to watch how much fear, disappointment, anger, giving up, quitting, etc. we have allowed in. One might say that if it’s such an important part of us, it should be protected by God first of all. Yes, it is protected by God! But God wants us to be partners with Him. He wants for us to do our part in protecting and guarding our heart. He considers us co-creators with Him, co-creators of our own selves and of His kingdom on our planet. I believe He has used every challenging situation for this purpose.
Victor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy, wrote in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” : “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” That’s where we all are these days. No one in the world has been able to figure out yet how to deal with the spread, find the cure or prevention of Covid-19. The whole world is involved, the greatest minds are challenged.
Meanwhile, where we are, with multiple tasks to accomplish every day, we are asked by God to guard our heart/s. Firstly, because God looks at the heart (1Sam. 16:7), secondly, because our heart reflects who we are and what we truly treasure (Luke 12:34), it reflects our value to God, and also, for all practical reasons, because by how we manage our heart, our daily business will go or stall.
Attitude! We are asked to manage our attitude and our response to what’s going on!
Victor Frankl also said in his “Man’s Search for Meaning” that “between stimulus [e.g. the events that affect us] and [our] response there is a space. In that space is our power [the only power that we have daily, the power] to choose our response. In the response lies our growth and our freedom.”
For us Christians, these days faith is not just “a thing” to do on Sunday. It is a daily quest, a daily practice and daily focused involvement. Cultivation of faith is our daily activity. Because if the heart is charged with faith and filled with the presence of Jesus Christ, there is no place for fear, despair or hopelessness. That is our response to our troubling situation!
Many routines that directed our daily lives have been challenged or changed by the coronavirus. We are in the process of creating new routines. It’s not easy, but we can do it! And we will! In those daily routines, let’s incorporating elements of Sunday worship of God. Is it singing “Jesus Loves Me” while we washing the dishes? Is it reading the Bible or a devotional instead of watching more of the heavy news? Is it reciting Ada Chapel’s closing prayer? “Father, we thank Thee for the night and for the blessed morning light…” Do what you chose and see what happens in your heart and how consequently, it will lighten your attitude and bring peace into your day! Do it often, as soon as you feel uncertainly, fear, despair creeping in, do one of your Christian routines. In other words, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, ad having done all, to stand.: (Ephesians 6:10-20) Strengthen and continue cultivating your faith!
Over 15 years ago when I first came to Wilmington after graduating from the seminary, one of my ministries was to be a pastoral-spiritual presence for the people with mental disabilities. A lot of them were dealing with difficult emotions. But there was one man who, irrespective of his illness, was always positive, cheerful and friendly. It turned out that his family and church constantly made sure that he had Bible quotes in his little pocket book. He quoted them often. The man’s mental capacity was afflicted, but his heart, guarded by faith in Jesus, was strong and pure. Subsequently it made him into a pleasant and friendly person. Because of that, even under a heavy burden of the incurable disease, he had a decent life. He guarded his heart and kept it clean. He benefited in practical ways from the springs of life, deeply in-bedded in Christ Jesus.
Paul sums it up well: “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Hymn- Peace in the Valley
Ada Chapel Prayer
Father, we thank thee for the night; and for the blessed morning light. For rest and food, and loving care; and all that makes the world so fair. Help us do the things we should; to be to others kind and good. In all we do, and all we say; to grow more loving every day. Amen.