April 28

   

Carstairs-Bancroft United Church

April 28, 2020

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT

DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces

 

 

Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,

There is a saying about the only permanent phenomenon of life. You probably have already run into this quote: “The only constant thing in this world is change.”

Although it sounds especially true for all of us living in the enormous changes COVID-19 caused in 2020, this motto originates way back to Heraclitus of Ephesus, who was born about 535 BC! This sentence is accredited to him: “There is nothing permanent except change.”

History and science have proved this wisdom to be true, and it can be scaring and comforting at the same time. Changes challenge us and force us to adopt. But changes can also occur for the better.

Those of you who read this past Sunday’s message might recall that Jesus’s resurrection at the very first Easter has changed the world forever, and meeting the Risen Lord has changed the disciples as well. Instead of being a scared bunch who tried to hide, and to preserve their lives from execution, they became brave witnesses of the Christ who defeated death itself. Their courageous message cut into the hearts of many. They believed in the good news of salvation, and changed their ways of relating to God and to one another.

I believe that this kind of change – though it is still challenging – is for the better. When our relationship is restored with the unchanging Creator of this ever-changing universe, it doesn’t leave us the same. The ‘contact’ with the Holy One transforms us if we want and let it happen. The Scripture tells us that “God is love”, and we can see that embodied in the life and sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus.

He called everyone who wants to belong to him to get to know his teachings/commands and to keep them. John recorded what Jesus’ main command is: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Today, I forward you a devotion from Rev. Geza, and this reflects on changes as well. I encourage you to engage with the question of change in the world and in your own life. The good news is, that when we let God to be part of our life, we are never alone, not even as we tackle with changes. As the many times quoted words of New Creed remind us: “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”

May this experience help us to change to the better, and to fight any other changes of life with hope, peace and love.

Grace and Peace to You All,

Rev. Maria

 

 

 

Life Change?

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” / Matthew 16:24

What is the most important activity in your life? Try to think of something really important… or several important things…

…Has “following Jesus” made it on your list? If not, why?

If you take a thorough look at your life and reminisce about past events, the highs and the lows, the best and the worst moments, they usually are about people, aren’t they? If you think of key turning points in your life, they were influenced by other people, weren’t they?

Life change is usually influenced by personal relationships, most often emotionally charged relationships… not only the good ones but the bad ones too.

Isn’t the purpose of the church being to promote life change?

Isn’t exchanged life is the main idea behind Christianity, our daily walk with Christ?

This is why so many pastors and ministers put such a great emphasis on “personal relationship with Christ,” instead of “religion.”

Why? Religion will not improve your life, because it cannot go deep enough… only a personal love relationship can do that.

God is love; God is good – praise be to God.

 

Prayer– by Carol Penner:

We come to you with many needs today. Hear our prayer for those who are sick with this virus…

ease their suffering and restore them to health.

Hear our prayer for those who are grieving, who bury their loved ones without the comfort of funerals,

or the physical presence of family and friends.

Hear our prayer for the unemployed and business owners in this time of financial insecurity…

help them survive this economic downturn.

Hear our prayer for children whose routines are disrupted and who long to play sports and visit playgrounds… show them how to have fun inside.

We pray for vulnerable people everywhere, especially refugees, and people in war-torn countries who have no access to medical care…. we need a miracle to spare them from this virus.

Finally, hear our prayer for public health officials around the world — give them wisdom as they make decisions to reduce fatalities.

This week, when we are tempted to dwell only on our own loneliness, help us reach out to others,

being the community we long to have. Thank you for showing us new ways to be the church, the church alive, vibrant and witnessing to the risen Christ in times like these. Amen.

Devotion by Rev. Geza

Used with permission