I hope you'll be able to join us tonight for Bible Study at 6:30. We have begun to work our way through the book of Ecclesiastes. We will continue in Chapter 1, verse 12. Please email me if you need the link.
As we have seen over the last four chapters, the questions about God and the pandemic don’t have easy answers. I think that N.T. Wright has done an admirable job navigating these questions, and that leaves us in the position of having to figure out the Church’s response to the pandemic. Considering Jesus’ call and his ministry, how are we to be acting during this time? What do we do? As the shepherd of a flock of beloved people, this has been the question that has kept me up for many many nights. As Wright puts it, “[God] called a human family – knowing full well that they were as flawed as the rest – to be his partners in the work of redemption and new creation.” At St. Timothy’s, our vision since the beginning has been to further God’s mission of rescue and redemption, so this speaks to us at a foundational and fundamental level. And as a part of this mission, we are firstly called to follow in the footsteps of “the Jesus who wept at the tomb of his friend, who agonized in Geth
I remember when St. Timothy's made the decision to suspend in-person worship services back in March. The thinking then was that we might have a couple weeks off to get everything sorted and in order, and then hopefully be back once we had this whole virus thing under control. It was lent, and we pictured ourselves as wandering through the wilderness on a journey that would quickly be over, hopefully by Easter. And then it was hopefully by Pentecost. And from where we're sitting now, the conversation has shifted. We've stopped trying to make guesses, and many of us are resigned to the fact that this could last for at least a year, if not more. That's a sobering thought. Although our meetings have resumed, it will be a long while before all of us feel safe in gathering together again. And of course, we all question. Why? Why is this happening? What does it mean? What is our response in the face of this? How are we continue being the church? Where is God in all of this?
Chapter 4 begins by taking a look at how the early church bore the message of Christ into the wider world. The Jewish faith gave two main paradigms that the early church could pull from. One paradigm was that of exile. In this paradigm, Israel had abandoned its call to love their God with all their heart, mind, body, and strength. They had also neglected to love their neighbor as themselves. Through the prophets, the people had been called to repentance but had declined to turn from their ways. The exile was caused by their unwillingness to repent. It was punishment for failing to keep the covenant. But there was another paradigm available to the early church - one of deliverance. The Exodus had been the foundational event in Jewish history. God had heard the cry of his people and delivered them from slavery. Wright points out that "when Israel was enslaved in Egypt nobody ever said it was a result of their sin." Jesus himself seems to point the church to this paradigm by roo