“All Are Welcome In This Place”

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. Really?

In 1987, the rock group REM came out with a song called “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”.  The song only hit #69 on the Billboard Hot 100 list of that year.  The song, though, has become a favorite for many fans over the years.  Every time there is some world crisis, the song pops again on the charts.  This season of the Coronavirus pandemic is no exception.  Last Friday, the song was found at the #72 spot of the top 100 songs on Itunes.  By Monday, the song climbed to the #39 spot.

The popularity of the song today speaks to the fears that many people have about this current crisis.  Psalm 46 describes the emotions of many of us saying, “the earth gives way, the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, and the waters roar” (Psalm 46:2-3).  For many of us, fear grows with every news broadcast.

I want to remind all of us, myself included, that the Bible continually proclaims, “do not be afraid”.  But, how can we move past our fears?  Instead of being imprisoned by fear, I’d like to remind us all of 4 words – Faith, Expectation, Appreciation, and Rest.  The Letter to the Hebrews (11:1) says that Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  God calls me to trust that He is the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul promises us that even though we are living in times of uncertainty, “all creation waits in eager Expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (8:19).  I can’t help but wonder, in times like this, what do I expect will happen in the midst of this crisis?  Do I expect that God will indeed be in the midst of this? The scholars of the Bible tells us that the Psalms found in the Hebrew Bible are songs that represent the heart and emotions of God’s people.  Often written during times of crisis, these songs, these poems expressed the emotions of fear, joy, sadness, and trust.  Psalm 69:30 shares our heart that expresses appreciation for all of God’s blessings – even in the midst of distress: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving”.  I reminded that, every day, I need to find something that I Appreciate about the day.  Honestly, I confess that this current crisis has exhausted me.  At the end of the day, many of us are empty as we collapse on our beds.  This crisis, especially in the season of Lent, give us the opportunity to rest in the trust of God.  In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear the gentle words of Jesus say to us, “Come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (11:28).  Please find time to rest during these days of “social distancing”.  24 hours a day of news about this situation can literally suck the life out of us.  I encourage you to draw ever closer to Christ and Rest in the assurance that He is on the throne and is victorious over all things – even this current crisis.

In closing, I must say that I think that the song created by REM gets it wrong.  It’s not the end of the world as we know it.  I truly believe that it can be a beginning of a new world.  I think it is incorrect to  look at the Book of Revelation and find some prediction of the end of the world.  Indeed, I believe that Revelation gives us a beautiful image of the heavenly city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to meet earth in the Resurrected Jesus.  With faith in Him, something new and wonderful is happening – right now. Not at the end of the world.  I ask that you join me in praying that God’s kingdom comes on earth, as in heaven.  God’s kingdom is a kingdom of hope, of love, of compassion, and justice.  Let’s not let fear get in the way of the coming of that Kingdom!

So, friends, I’m telling myself and encouraging you – do not be afraid.  Rather be filled with Faith, Expectation, Appreciation, and Rest.

May God bless you and protect you.

Roger