My Beloved Zion Memorial Missionary Baptist Church Family,
Life has changed! But, isn't life always changing? Right now, we are all living through incredibly interesting times. But, if you are able to receive and read this email right now, be clear, praise God! You are alive! And, because you are alive, you should rejoice in this day that the Lord has made...no matter what the day is and what the day brings.
My great hope and prayer for all is that you are safe, healthy, and making wise decisions to remain safe and healthy. Those decisions may vary from individual to individual. Do remember that we exist in 4 dimensions. We are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Our responses and God's responses to us are ultimately between us and God. Do know that in the midst of your individual situation, God is watching over you and is already seeking to use your life and your life situation to bring Him praise, honor, and glory.
It is on our blessed Sunday mornings when most of us come together to worship our God and to give Him praise, honor and glory.
It is a time when we set aside our lives to celebrate the one who has given us life, eternal life, and wisely, safely, dutifully, and faithfully guides us in between by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
I do not want to get too religious so let me bring it down to our real.
Yesterday, I had to leave my home a couple of times to take care of some things for the family. On my second trip, I had to go out and pick up some food as it was after the mandated closure of restaurants to dine-in at 5pm and the allowance of takeout or delivery was the only option.
As I drove around, it was eerily quiet and calm. I drove past empty parking lots and closed businesses. I was able to get to my destination and home in record time because there was no traffic.
Also, as I drove, the sky was clear, the air was clean, and I could see a few people out in their communities walking around, jogging, riding bikes, and simply enjoying the simplicity of the day.
Why? It was because they had no choice. The Monday-Friday, 9-5, has gradually been grinding to a halt and, as a result, for those who dare to venture out for something other than shopping or necessary appointments, it was like Sunday; but, it was not Sunday. It was Tuesday.
Beloved, COVID-19 is serious. COVID-19 is making people sick. COVID-19 is causing some people to lose their lives. COVID-19 is causing worry, fear, anxiety and doubt.
Now, that is what is happening at "See" level.
Above "See" level, Romans 8:28 still holds true which tells us, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
One of the things that I know about Zion Memorial is that we love God. One of the things that I know about Zion Memorial is that we are a called people. One of the things that I know about Zion Memorial is that we try to fulfill His purpose.
In fulfilling God's purpose, we have to always listen to the Holy Spirit who will remind us of who we are, whose we are, and God's design for our lives.
Beloved, one of the things that is a key part of God's design in our lives is rest. The Sabbath Day has been violently violated such that so many of us in this world do not use it for what God intended it to be used for, rest.
Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest.
Genesis 2:2-3 reminds us, "And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation."
Beloved, on Tuesday, I experienced a day that was like Sunday. People were forced to rest from all the work that they had been doing and, despite their protests, were given an opportunity to just rest and reflect on God's creation, God's covering, God's keeping, God's protection, and God's provision.
On Sunday, we come together and do that. Now, in this very disrupted state of our lives, we are being forced to do the same on days other than Sunday.
We are finding less opportunity for normal work; but, we are being given, to some degree, the time of rest, reflection, recreation, and re-creation.
We can focus on the negative or, due to forced social distancing and job dislocation, we can choose to rest in our homes where we are supposed to find rest.
We can focus on the negative or, due to forced social distancing and job dislocation, we can choose to reflect on our lives and how we will live it on the other side of this crisis.
We can focus on the negative or, due to forced social distancing and job dislocation, we can choose to enjoy ourselves in our homes with close family and friends who we might not normally have the opportunity to spend time with.
We can focus on the negative or, due to forced social distancing and job dislocation, we can choose to take some time to think about our relationship with God as we try to figure out what God is going to do next with us.
Basically, we can focus on the negative or, due to forced social distancing and job dislocation, we can treat every day as if it was Sunday.
You see, if you will go back over those statements and change "due to forced social distancing and job dislocation" to "because of God's perfect or permissive will", I think you will see that this crisis, as uncomfortably tragic and undeniably disruptive as it is, is truly an opportunity for your faith to grow in a way that it never would if we did not go through this.
I hope and pray that Zion Memorial, individually and collectively, will be stronger as a church family because of this experience. I believe we will.
Let us not forget that "all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Faith over fear. Good over evil. Triumph over tragedy. Light over darkness. Hope over helplessness. Health over sickness. Life over death. Common sense over foolishness. Godly wisdom over worldly desires. Love over hate.
There is an overabundance of information out there regarding COVID-19.
As you listen and decide how to respond at what is happening at "See" level, I want you to also respond as one who trusts, loves, and has faith in the one true God who exists and operates on our behalf above "See" level.
And, His Holy Word found in Philippians 4:8 encourages us, "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
And, as God called everything that He made in six days "good" and then He rested, know that His six day provision continues for us today. Let us rest in God who rested and let us be calm in His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence as if everyday was Sunday.
I hope that on this day that we would traditionally have HOPE Wednesday that my words have given you some hope in these trying times.
For, I want you to always remember that God loves you and I love you too!