Faithful God, thank you for loving us, and supporting us during these hours and days of uncertainty and illness. Pardon and forgive us of our sins. As we walk with you to the cross and await your resurrection of hope and life, fix our minds and hearts on doing your will and on bringing love and peace to others in their time of need. Give us the peace that only you can give through the mercies of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen
Holy and most merciful God, as we begin this week, be our light in the darkness of these days. Defend us from all perils and dangers of the Corona virus and teach us to hold on to you in our weaknesses, and seek you always as our strength. May we be bound together by your Holy Spirit in the communion of all your saints entrusting one another and all of our lives to Christ our Lord, keep us in the joyful procession of those who confess Jesus as Lord and with their lives praise him as Savior. Amen
Walking With Jesus
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
Psalm 31 is a song of lament, yet this last verse is a word of encouragement, a word of faith and hope. It is saying to us that lament is not the end of the story. It is saying that even in the midst of our fear and sorrow, and our uncertainties in life, we can have confidence and look toward the future. These are not cliché statements like we might hear when someone says “It’s going to be okay” or “Everything happens for a reason.” No these words in the Psalm are words of trust in the very source of life itself, God, our creator and redeemer.
Lament does two things simultaneously. It deals with anguish and expresses hope. We often think that these two things cannot coexist. Most of the time we feel we only can be in the dark places of life as either one or the other. If we have hope, then we shouldn’t feel anguish. If we feel anguish we will have no hope. Yet the psalmist tells us that in the very depth of our anguish, our darkest times, we can also have hope.
That is what we can hold onto in these times of the Coronavirus pandemic. I am not saying that we don’t continue to fear the dreaded disease that surrounds us, but that in the midst of our fear and lament, in the midst of our tears and sorrow for those who are ill and those who are dying, we can also have hope in God and take courage that this time of anguish will pass as we wait for the Lord. And, while we wait we follow the cleanliness instructions we have been given by health officials to do our part in fighting the disease.
Bad times present us with a challenge and a choice. The challenge is a closer walk with God. The choice is for disappointment or faith. Many times we pray for deliverance. Save us, Lord, from this predicament. Many times, God answers that prayer, with an inner strength to carry on through the darkness and the battle. In either case, the challenge and the choice are the same. Come closer to the Lord; and choose faith over despair.
In his final moments on the cross, Jesus reflected on his challenge and choice. It was there that Jesus prayed scripture, “Into your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit. You redeem me, O Lord, faithful God.” (Luke 23:46). On the cross, Jesus reminded his enemies of his faith in God, by reciting Psalm 31:5. Here he gave us an example of how anguish and hope can coexist. In our prayers this week let us thank God for giving the strength needed for others and for ourselves as we endure the fears and uncertainties with this pandemic.
- As you pray this week will you remember to include a prayer of thanksgiving to God for strengthening you each day to face whatever comes with courage?
- Can you give praise and thanks to God for all those who are working night and day to save those who are ill and all those who are seeking ways to provide a vaccination against the Corona virus?
Walking With Jesus
“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.” Ezekiel 37:14
The year was 587 BCE. It was the low point of Israel’s history. Their nation had become like a desert floor covered with dead skeletons in Death Valley. The Babylonians had wiped them out in battle. All the young Israelite warriors were killed. Their bodies sprawled out on the desert sands as far as the eye could see. Their bodies were left to lie there in the sun to rot. The capital city lay in ruins, and the temple was destroyed. The people were in total poverty. Everybody was hungry or on the edge of starvation. The Israelites left alive were taken as prisoners, chains around their necks, and dragged back to Babylonia. The Jewish nation had become like the dead skeletons strewn across the desert floor in Death Valley, because their spirit was like the skeletons of their dead warriors.
The Jews lamented, “God can’t or won’t help us. There is no God. God is punishing us for our sins.” One person was left who trusted God, his name was Ezekiel. The Lord took Ezekiel out into death valley and showed him a vision of the dried bones of the Israelites. Then the Lord asked Ezekiel: “Shall all these dry bones live again?” And Ezekiel replied in faith, “Only you know Lord, if those bones shall live again.” The Lord answered Ezekiel with the promise that the dried bones would live again. Israel would recover and rise again as a people. The Spirit of God would be the key to their recovery.
When the Spirit of God comes into our spirit, it affects our whole being. When God’s Spirit gets into our spirit things begin to change. We begin to be and act in the ways God created us to be. The dryness of our being comes alive.
As we experience one of the worst pandemics of our lifetime, and as people are deathly ill from this disease, we walk around in fear that it could strike us too. We can almost see the valley of dry bones filling around us. Could it be that we need to hear the Word of the Lord for today “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” When God puts His Spirit in us, we are the passive recipients of God’s Gift of Grace, and it moves us to share God’s love with all who are hurting, ill, and dying or in sorrow. It strengthens us and the dry bones of our faith come alive. May the Spirit of God fill our spirits and change every part of our being so that God can build us into the people He desires us to become. Open your heart to respond to the Spirit of God and live.
1. What are your greatest fears about the times we are living in?
2. Will you pray for God’s Spirit to fill you so God’s Spirit effect all of you so you can minister to others?
3. Can you imagine today what God’s Spirit might lead you to do to bring peace, love, comfort and joy to others in their time of need?
Lord God, you sent your Son into the world to draw us to you in love and peace. As we shelter in our homes give us the peace that only you can give. Unify your people in our oneness to share your love with others, and steady our faith and trust in you in these times of fear and disease. May the light of Christ shine bright in us as we offer our prayers and assistance to others and as we prepare for virtual on line worship together tomorrow and as we prepare our hearts to walk with Jesus to the cross. In His Holy Name we pray. Amen
Ever living God, be our companion this day. Kindle in us the fire of your love for others, and awaken anew our hope and trust in you as we stay in our homes and contact others by phone, texting, and other means of distance communication to encourage them. As we read your Word this day, reveal yourself to us and show us how to live in our solitude to serve others. Protect and strengthen all who are working to combat the Corona virus. Grant this for the sake of your love for all humanity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Greetings to the Via de Cristo 4th Day Community.
After much consideration and prayer, the NLS Executive Board has made the unanimous decision to cancel the upcoming face-to-face 2020 Annual Gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota, July 29-August 2. With the state of our world and the Coronavirus rapidly spreading, we felt compelled to take action and relieve the VdC Community from wondering whether the Annual Gathering will be held or not.
Note that, because of the National Lutheran Secretariat Constitution, we MUST hold an Annual Meeting of Delegates. The details will follow.
For several weeks now, we have been compiling a Plan B for the Annual Gathering/Meeting. We will send all the information you need to participate virtually as a family of God.
In the following weeks, you will receive instructions/directions on how the virtual business meeting will be conducted and how to access the webinars. We will plan, research and try to make the whole process as easy as possible. Please bear with us as we travel through this unknown territory.
The elected leadership of each Secretariat should designate their delegate/delegates and Clergy delegate by May 1. Jeanne Gaston, NLS Secretary, needs to have those names and emails by May 15. Her email is Secretary@viadecristo.org. If you are unsure how many delegates your Secretariat is allotted, please contact Jeanne.
Items on the Business Meeting Agenda, that require voting by the delegates, will be sent out to the entire community prior to June 1— so that each community member can review, discuss and then officially provide their delegate/s with feedback.
We trust that God leads us through this challenging time in history and that each of you and your families will be safe in His peace.
Our hope is in the Lord.
Wendy Showalter, President Debbie Klatt, Vice President of Administration
Lindsay Daughtery, Vice President of Outreach Pastor Sue Beall, Spiritual Director
Jeanne Gaston, Secretary Jim Ryan, Treasurer
Loving God, may our hearts and minds be drawn to you throughout this day. In our time alone with you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, and control our wills so that we are aware of our growing relationship with you. As you speak to us through the Holy Scriptures today, may we listen with our spirits attuned to your Spirit. Bless us with a reverent sense of your presence so that we may worship you in all that we do this day. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
Today let us pray the prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light, where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen