“Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31-34) What a difference six weeks can make?! 2019 brought the best market returns during my tenure with the Foundation and Development Fund. Based on all that, I had a number of plans of expanding our ministry. And so, now this…as I write, many of us are working from home due to our concerns regarding COVID-19. Social distancing seems to be the new “normal.” We are also experiencing unprecedented volatility in the markets. One thousand point daily swings are now commonplace. These are truly anxious times. And yet…
Swiss theologian, Karl Barth has observed, “The Atonement takes precedence over all of human history.” And what that means is simply this: COVID-19 and all the associated market volatility can really only be understood in the basic Gospel truth that God is for us and not against us! Every day that we have is an opportunity to remember and live in the light of our creedal affirmation that for us and our salvation Jesus Christ came down from heaven. These are difficult times, many of our local churches are struggling. Many of us are worried about the future of our denomination and our country. But still, we are invited again to recall: Jesus reveals the full truth of God: you are loved with a love which will never end.
So then, how do we live in the truth of what Christ has accomplished? I’ll offer this: let us be shaped by the cardinal Christian virtues (faith, hope and love). First, let us trust God. He has given us faith so that we might remember each day, that our Lord is sufficient for all our needs. Our Lord who has been faithful in the past will also be faithful today and in the days to come. Second, let us be mindful of a promised, good future. You and I have access to a hope which can not be overcome by present circumstances. Through Christ, you and I already know the end of the story: the tomb is empty, Christ is risen and there is nothing that can come between us and God’s love. Finally, in the light of all that, you and I are called to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. So, even if we must practice social distancing, we can still offer love especially to those who are hurting and who are afraid. Who do you know today who needs help? Who do you know today who needs to either know for the first time or be reminded for the hundredth time that Jesus loves them? Are there any practical, common place ways that you can manifest that love for them?
This is not anything I anticipated writing a few weeks ago. Back in February I was hoping to be able to crow about past performance, while anticipating an even brighter financial future. But today, I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle as he wrote to the Galatians: “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14) Have no doubt, regardless of good days or bad, our Lord is for you and not against you. And have no doubt, that as you trust him, all these things shall be added in the right time and in the right way to you, as well.
The Reverend Dr. Philip Jamieson
President, UM Foundation