Friday, March 20, 2020
Written by Pastor Anthony Iovine
Locking ourselves in at home is not something any of us want to do. We all would rather be at work, at play, having fun with friends. But we're being asked to put all of that aside to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19.
Here in Bergen County, we've been hit hard. Every day the numbers of infected people are rising as more and more people get tested. It is assured that as the days tick away, more and more people will get tested, be told they have the virus, and sadly, some will die.
What we can do is listen to our government officials. They want us to stay home and away from even small gatherings. That is why church has been canceled.
We still go to the grocery store or pharmacy; we continue to check in on loved ones and the elderly; and we continue to hope that soon, we can get back to our regular lives.
Until then, we pray for patience and God's mercy that scientists find a cure and a vaccine.
Each day we'll update this page to give you a chance to spend time in God's Word and in prayer.
A Reading from Holy Scripture
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Today's Thought on Jeremiah 29:11
Our God didn't call us His own to leave us alone.
He did just the opposite. He gives us His Holy Spirit who dwells within us. He gives us His Son who died for our sin and broke the hold of death for us.
By being in us and with us, our God delivers us hope, that no matter how bad things get, He's never leaving us alone.
You know, when we look around us, at the early onset of this health crisis, people went a little nuts. They hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. Shopping carts were filled with enough milk and bread to outlast three blizzards. And there was even time when people people jacked up prices on everything, hoping to make a buck. People were scared because we didn't know what the end game was for dealing with the virus.
Today, worries are still there, especially for the sick and those being laid off all around us. None of us knows what's next.
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us today that we are in the hands of the Lord God. He is not far away, but with us. Even though we are facing trying times, our God is with us and even has a plan for each of us. At the center of His plans for us all is hope.
During our darkest times, our Lord implores us to trust Him, that while we maybe walking through darkness, He's with us and will help us.
The Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer - "Give us this day our daily bread." In the explanation section of the Small Catechism, two of the questions are as follows:
- What is the focus of this petition? It focuses on recognizing God as the giver of all good things and giving thanks for all His gifts of creation that sustain our bodily life (in other words, we pray for all the gifts mentioned in the First Article of the Creed),
- Why does God provide for the earthly needs of everyone, even apart from prayer? As our loving Creator, God looks after His entire creation and provides for both Christians and non-Christians, for people and animals.
One of the Scripture verses from this section to remind us of God's love and mercy for His people: From Psalm 145:15-16 - "The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing."
As we go about our lives right now locked in at home, do not forget that our Lord is with us! He provides for us and gives us the hope for better days! That's been His plan for us from the beginning.
There are a lot of people who don't think they can pray. When many people come to church and listen to the prayers that I and our Elders pray, many times they think that they can't "do that." The fact is that the prayers we do in church are written over days specifically for our worship service.
When I sit at home and pray, my prayers aren't fancy. I don't use "big churchy words" or lengthy petitions.
Prayer is simple - it is a conversation between you and God.
It doesn't mean that your prayers have to be grammatically-correct or sound like you've had years of theological training. It's you, talking with your God.
The important part of my Christian prayer life is that I have a conversation with God daily - telling Him my concerns and worries; explaining my weaknesses; talking about those who need His help; thanking Him for what He's given me.
A conversation - that's what prayer is.
Today, take time to pray for:
- All those who have been infected with this virus, that our Lord would provide for comfort and healing.
- For all families dealing with loved ones who are battling this virus, that they be spiritually strengthened.
- For all doctors, nurses, and health care givers, that they be protected from infection while they provide their best care for the sick.
- For all scientists and researchers, that they work prudently to find a vaccine and treatments.
- For all of our government, including our President, Donald Trump; our Governor, Phil Murphy; our County Executive, James Tedesco; for all our local officials in New Milford (Mayor Michael Petrino) and Garfield (Mayor Richard Rigoglioso).
- For ourselves, that we be given patience and hope during this time.
- For those facing difficult times as they lose jobs, lose businesses, and lose hope, that we, as a people, come together to help those negatively impacted by the ravages of the virus.
I love music, especially those songs that sing about God. Each day we'll post a song that livens the heart and builds up your spirit. Today, a song by Hope Darst, "Peace Be Still."