Winter Ends, COVID Continues, yet JESUS Wins!

Lent has begun and I’m having a bit of PTSD. No kidding, but aren’t we all? It has almost been a year since this pandemic started. Our last “normal” worship service was March 15, 2020. I remember having hopes of being back in church by last Easter, then spent 5 months preaching to an empty sanctuary pretending to look at invisible people. Things got a little better in late summer when we returned to face-to-face worship, or maybe it would be more accurate to describe it as mask-to-mask with 5 socially-distant services and safety protocols. We did have a Christmas Eve service in the parking lot of the mall engulfed by the rain, but buoyed by the hundreds of carloads of people holding their battery-operated candles. We all claimed the Apostle John’s words, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” We have learned how to be both resilient and virtual in every way imaginable. As one of our staff members put it so aptly, “We’ve been learning to fly the plane while we are building it.” Many of us wish that we had bought stock in Zoom, and here we are in Lent again, but 2021 seems to be 2020 part two. We are weary.

I am weary of the restrictions, the utter flip-flop of doing ministry the way that I have done it for 44 years. Zoom Sunday School works, and I’ve found out that Zoom pre-marital counseling sessions are pretty darn effective. I miss being able to hold the hands of the dying and hurting; visiting people when they need me most in tangible physical real, not cyber ways. I think what is depressing me most right now is the vestiges of spring’s approach. If we were still in the cold, dark wetness of winter, maybe I wouldn’t mind this melancholy so much, but I’m feeling like Bill Murray in the movie, “Groundhog Day.” Everyday is “here we go again,” and it’s not getting that much better. The weight of all the losses, the isolation, and the eradication of what we took for granted and have lost is overwhelming.

Yep, we’re in a Lenten Funk, a COVID extended drama. Garrison Keillor once said that if you were shy, from the Midwest, and Lutheran it is Lent all year-round. With COVID, it doesn’t matter if you’re shy, from the Midwest or Lutheran. The deprivations associated with Lent have become a reality not just for our country, but for the whole world. If ever we needed Good News, it’s now. Maybe that’s a main takeaway for Christians this Lent. We can offer hope that this journey we have been on will end in victory. That’s the message of this season’s 40 days. They end in Easter triumph. It’s the hope of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

We’re not there yet, though. Times are still tough and we need to remain vigilant, but the cavalry is coming. If we listen hard enough, we can hear the bugle call. The US cavalry and Jesus’ death on the hill named Calvary are on their way. So, we hold on, and we hope. We grasp every bit of Good News that we can and we wait with patient endurance. We foster our faith and cling to the eternal truths of the Isaac Watts’ hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” as it summarizes Psalm 90. These words ring truer to me now than they ever have before:

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

Under the shadow of thy throne,
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or Earth received her frame,
From everlasting, thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages, in thy sight,
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night,
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all who breathe away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Still be our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Ponder and look up, google or whatever you need to do to read and/or hear the great hymns and songs of the church that exude faith in tough times: “How Firm a Foundation,” My Hope is Built,” “A Mighty Fortress  Is My God,” “Stand By Me,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “Amazing Grace,” “Great is thy Faithfulness,” “Leave it There,” and finish with a rousing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as you journey through this seemingly perpetual Lent. Watch the music video of “Worn” by the group Tenth Avenue North and feel the hope. Try the music video by Crowder, “Come as You Are.” God can give us what we need to get through whatever we’re facing. Hang in there and trust the Lord. Amen.

(P.S. Add to the comments your favorite soul-lifting hymns or praise songs that give you strength. Let’s share some Good News with each other!)

Hope Springs Eternal

21 thoughts on “Winter Ends, COVID Continues, yet JESUS Wins!

  1. My Faith Looks Up to Thee as a go-to hymn and the words to Cornerstone always lead me to a time of personal worship.

  2. WHOA… That was a thought provoker! I struggle with letting this all get me down too. I wish often that my husband was still here with me. I’m not good at being alone and the isolation brought with this pandemic has amplified that for me. I do have a favorite hymn… several probably but the the one at the top my list is “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and there is a reason for that. When my husband was dying one of my grandson’s got on a plane from Minneapolis and flew to Aiken to spend time with him and and with me. He was not even his biological grandfather; but he loved him and they shared a bond. Jake brought his guitar with him and played and sang songs to Grandpa in the ICU… one of those songs was “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. We sang that at his funeral too because it was so relevant to me and to him as he passed away. It’’s going to be a misty day and I thank you for your suggested list of hymns to listen too… I’ll be doing that today… and beyond. Thank You

    1. Char, God bless you and us all in this mess. “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” is one of the best go-to songs for strength when the world throws curve balls. Jesus can always be counted on. Thanks, Tim

      Sent from my iPhone

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  3. “What a Friend We (I) Have in Jesus” – oh how those word comfort and strengthen…and such a great reminder that going to Jesus is what I need to do most…share it all with Him…and letting go and just resting in Him.
    Also, Jesus, Lover of My Soul” is a wonderful old hymn…what a wonderful truth – that Jesus truly is the Lover of my soul…He came to earth to live, die, rise from the grace, all so I can live forever in Him and with Him….eternity began for me the day I received Jesus as my Savior and BFF.
    And I love a more modern day song – “In Christ Alone” – this song grips my heart and soul every time I hear it or read the lyrics. And I need to be reminded that it all is indeed – “In Christ Alone”. He is everything I need. Praise Him with grateful hearts.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us…it is good know we are not alone…we are the family of God.

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