There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:18-19)
Thursday, Third Week of Easter
Father, you open the kingdom of heaven to those born again by water and the Spirit. Increase your gift of love in us. May all who have been freed from sins in baptism receive all that you have promised, including the freedom from fear. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
My fear is that there will be an unpleasant side effect from all these COVID-19 protocols. What is that you might ask? For me it is this: We will lose the capacity to want to be together. As a pastor, I wonder if our churches will be emptier after COVID-19, than before. I suspect that it will take some time to refill empty pews. Time will tell.
Why do I think this? Because we are creating new habits. Habits are created when a person changes their actions consistently over time. The rule of thumb is that if you change your behavior and stick to it for more than 30 days, it becomes a habit. For seven weeks, going on eight, most of us have been holed up in our homes, avoiding social contact.
There have been positive results: Families have become closer. Kids are spending more time with their parents. More outdoor walks have happened. Air pollution has lessened. Time has slowed. More baking and creative pursuits are being done now than in times past.
There are down sides too: Some families are ready to strangle each other. Parents desperately want their kids to return to school to get out of their hair. Many of us want to get back to work and get paychecks again. Bills are stacking up. And then there is the virus….
My prayer for you in this moment is that your desire for one another will grow, not diminish. May God enable you to increase your love for one another. The Bible reminds us that “perfect love cast out fear.” Do you still worry about the future? Then consider this. God’s perfect love is given to you. Trust him. He loves you. Focus on love–His love! The reason we can love those around us, is because he first loved us. Out of his love for us, he offers us forgiveness, free and full. Loved and forgiven, we can then love and forgive others freely and fully.
In the palm of the Savior’s hand,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
P.S. Hope you and your family are healthy and safe. We are in this together. We have help available if there are needs. Please let us know.