March 15, 2020: 3rd Sunday in Lent

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You are our Light and our Salvation.  You are the Mighty Conqueror over all our fears—including death.  So today we ask You to exercise Your power and show us the way away from fear and panic and embrace us with the confidence of knowing that our future always rests secure in Your loving hands which despite nail marks emanate love.  Amen


TEXT:  Ephesians 5: 8-14

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

          The 4 horsemen of the apocalypse have gone for a short ride around-the-world.  You recall those 4 horsemen from Revelation chapter 6: war, pestilence, famine, and death.  They spread fear before them and leave broken bodies and souls in their wake.  For they are the opposite of Christianity.  Christ heals, they destroy.  Christ brings confidence.  They spread fear.  Christ brings light and life and hope.  They spread darkness, anger, death, and hopelessness.  

          It should be obvious that the corona virus isn’t caused by the powers of Light.  It stems from sin-darkened evilness—since a Godless Chinese government cooked it up in their bioweapons lab 20 miles outside of Wuhan, China.  We could call it a manifestation of that horseman called: pestilence.  The plague of locusts in Africa and the Middle East along with the fires in Australia could be called: famine.  Warfare continues around the world.  And death, well, all of the above pave the way for that rider on the pale horse.  It is time for God’s people to recognize and take to heart the words of our text: “”Wake up, O sleeper; arise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.”


                   In 1347 a ship from the Middle East docked in Italy and brought the black plague to Europe.  It, too, originated in China.  It was a disease spread by rats and also was airborne—pneumonia like.  It wiped out 1/3 of Europe’s population of the time, about 20 million.  But by 1351 it basically burned out and receded.  Afterwards, life went on and we’re a result of that today.  And by the way, animals suffered with the black plague, too.

                   In those days, most people believed in God.  They may have been poor, illiterate, and they were all sinners like us, but they still possessed enough morality to ask God for help.  They prayed, they used fire for cleansing against the plague, they quarantined sufferers,  treated patients as best they could, and  finally, “this too, passed.”  

                   Fear is a powerful motivation.  Fear stems from the unknowable and the uncontrollable.  Both are potent tools of the Dark lord, Satan and his minions.  If you went to the grocery late week you saw the chaos in the wake of Pestilence’s ride across the world.  Yet, where does evil come from and how do we handle it?  The news people say it originated in China via bats and was transmitted somehow into small rodents and then to humans.  Because they believe in evolution, this is their basic concept:  it evolved to us in this manner.  Christians know better.  Evil and darkness comes from the evil one.  And in this case, he used evil people to do his bidding. Yes, the world is a scary place—a fact which people forget until it hits them directly.


                   Today you’ve come to church for solace and comfort.  It’s scary being scared.  The darkness of evil and uncertainty breed only one thing: fear.  But God Almighty, via the Apostle Paul tells you this: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.  That’s why it is said: Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

                   This week was America’s wake-up call.  As Americans we’ve slumbered our months and years away.  We’ve given up “organized” religion, especially Christianity. Visible church leaders often use God as an excuse to gain power and human glory.  They don’t really believe in the Trinity, in Christ’s divine nature, in the reality of the cross, in miracles or the resurrection.  They often mouth the words of the Bible but then gut their meaning with countless qualifiers.  The commandments become suggestions.  Human love is preached without Christ’s forgiveness giving it eternal meaning.  And so, in America, people have given up on God because none of the Christian stuff seems relevant to their lives.  They basically have reverted to the opposite of the 1st commandment.  They believe in the ability of man to fix things instead of in God to do so.  And here we are today with the horseman of pestilence riding across our land.

                   Paul gives us hope because Christ is hope incarnate.  He is the Hope of the world because He is the Hope of all nations.  You find out what you’re made of, by discovering exactly Who made you!  Christ made you!  He also  remade you in the image of His love and forgiving nature.  He remade you to be filled with His goodness, His righteousness, and His truth.  He changed your perspective on life away from fear and darkness and embraced you with the Light of His eternal power and goodness.  That’s the message of Lent, isn’t it?

                   I’ve seen Christ hurl away demons via the power of prayer.  I’ve seen Him heal those whom doctors have put on the death watch.  I’ve seen Him transform broken hearts and fearful souls.  Ask Him to help!  Pray without ceasing!  Keep your light of faith and hope alive!  Arm yourself, like in the parable of the virgins and the wedding, where the wise ones conserved their oil so that they wouldn’t run dry and be overtaken by darkness.  Heed the medical people’s advice.  Be wise as serpents in keeping food on hand, and gentle as doves in sharing it if need be.  Recognize that your God-given immune system can be built up through exercise, sleep, certain herbs and vitamins, but most of all by: communing with God each day and each week—tapping into His power of grace.  Help build up your neighbors with the Light of confidence stemming from our Mighty Maker.  And always remember that God sets limits as to how far Satan and his horsemen can travel.  And when God says: “No more!”  That will become reality for all. Since you know all  this will come to pass, why not live like it, right now!  Yes, “trust in the Lord will all your heart (and being) and lean not on your own understanding.”   Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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