Rev. Drew Stockstill
Scripture Reflection and Daily Prayer: Friday, April 17, 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Morning Psalm- 96
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
This fall a couple of my best friends from Georgia came to visit us in Harrisburg. I’ve known one of them for most of my life and for the most part we had found a way to live near each other. I miss this friend a lot and the time he and his wife spent with us this fall was wonderful. Yet, we could not help but feel the sadness when the days passed quickly and it was time for them to go. As Juliet famously proclaimed from that balcony of old, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Our parting sorrow, however, was lessened and made sweeter because we all knew that in a month we’d be going to Georgia to visit them. As we had a final breakfast at the Front Street Diner before heading to the airport, my friend’s wife said, “I’d be crying if I didn’t know we will be seeing you so soon.”
This month Covid-19 is quickly becoming the leading cause of death in America. Many of us know people who have the virus, some who have recovered, some who are still suffering, some who have died. A mercy among this fear and death for Christians is that we are experiencing this season right alongside Easter, with its constant reminders of Jesus’ power over death. As my father-in-law said on our church Zoom call last night, (and I paraphrase), “If Jesus could conquer death, Jesus can conquer Covid-19.”
This is the Apostle Paul’s reminder to us today. We often say these words at a funeral: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?’ There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance when we say this while we all feel so deeply the sting of grief at a funeral. This is not a naïve greeting card sentiment, a “look on the bright side.” Our hope does not negate the sting of grief, only we know gone is the sting of death. Death does not mean separation from God and the ones we love for eternity. Death means only the change. In what will be, in the light of eternity, the “twinkling of an eye,” all will be well. What we love of togetherness today is always tinted with the shadow of its perishability – we do our best to ignore it. But the days pass so quickly. Through Christ, what we grieve as lost, will be raised, imperishable.
Julian of Norwich, the 14th century Christian Mystic once asked a question many of us wonder about sin and death in this life. She said, “I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well… “But Jesus… answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' These words were said most tenderly.”
Yes, friends, all shall be well.
Let us Pray:
Satisfy us with your love in the morning, Ps. 90:14
and we will live this day in joy and praise.
we praise you for your mighty love given in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross,
and the new life we have received by his resurrection.
Especially we thank you for
ministries of teaching and pastoral care . . . those who work to help and heal . . . Our Medical Outreach nurses... sacrifices others have made for our benefit . . . mission partners and supporters... opportunities for our generous giving . . . the generosity of our church members...
the presence of Christ in our weakness and suffering . . .
“People of God, for what else do we give thanks?” Add your own prayers of thanksgiving.
God of grace,
let our concern for others reflect Christ’s self-giving love, not only in our prayers, but also in our practice.
Especially we pray for
the church in Latin America . . .
a right relationship between humans and the earth . . . those who are wounded or face death . . .
those who keep watch over the sick and dying . . .
all who speak up and take action for what is right . . .
“People of God, for what else do we pray?” Add your own prayers.
Almighty God, you have made us in your image and crowned us with honor and glory.
Shape us by your Word and fill us with your Spirit so that we may live as your beloved children
and proclaim your saving love to our life’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“God the Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.”