Josh Medlock, Director of Student Ministries
Twenty two days ago, Judge Clay Jenkins issued the shelter in place order for Dallas County.
Since then Governor Greg Abbott has also asked all Texas residents to stay at home except for essential business.
Twenty two days may seem like a long time to stay at home, but think about places in the world that have been in lockdown.
Wuhan China, the starting place of all of this, went into lockdown on January 23 and remained so for 76 days.
During this time they weren’t allowed to leave their homes at all. No walks, no bicycle rides, no direct contact with anything outside their homes.
When I think about all that we are going through here in North Texas, I try to keep things in perspective and remember that I can take a walk in my neighborhood if I would like to.
I can go to the grocery store if I need to. I can drive my car to a relative’s house and have a driveway talk if I want to. I am so incredibly thankful for that.
Two days ago we celebrated Easter. We celebrated our risen Lord.
For those of you who were able to watch our 7:00am and 11:00am worship services, I hope you were as blessed as I was.
Listening and watching Eldred play the organ again as I turned up the bass on my sub-woofer gave me chills.
What a wonderful arrangement.
Of course nothing beats the Toccata that was played as our postlude.
The Cowan family blessed us with their gift of music.
I love listening to families that sing together. There is something about the way their voices blend together that you simply don’t get in any other setting.
Dana Willis proclaimed our scriptures in a way that only she can.
We are so blessed to have people like her that are willing to bring their dramatic interpretations to us through voice and movement.
I loved seeing Chancel Choir proclaim “He is risen. He is risen indeed!”
Kitty Williams is working so hard to keep our choir connected and bring their ministry to the congregation.
Speaking of Kitty, what a blessing to hear her sing. We should get to hear more of that, yes?
Caroline Noll always seems to find a way to bring joy into Children’s Time each Sunday when we gather in our sanctuary.
And to watch her do it in a virtual space and still bring joy to children …
My son Cooper immediately got on the floor to move closer to the screen, as if he were coming to the chancel rail in our sanctuary to listen to Pastor Caroline bring the message to all the children.
I was truly amazed at the power of her message.
Valarie Englert brought our Easter message. A message of hope and love.
Her passion is so evident in the messages she brings each week.
In a virtual space, it is difficult to know how your message is being received, but I know for me it was a powerful and uplifting message of hope and love.
He is risen indeed!
Still, there was something missing.
I had my wife and children (and recently acquired beast of a puppy) with me, but I didn’t have my friends and family there.
You, my church family, weren’t sitting in the same room as I was. We were watching together, but I didn’t see you.
The youth didn’t come up to the 3rd floor dressed in their Easter finest to fellowship together.
I didn’t get to see all the wonderful, colorful outfits on our children as they came from the 2nd floor to worship.
I didn’t get to see the stained glass windows as the sunlight burst through and dazzling colors danced across the room.
I didn’t get to see any of these things.
And there were no hugs or handshakes in the hallways or sanctuary, no warm greetings with smiles as we shared the peace of Christ with one another.
Yes, something was certainly missing.
Even though there were things missing, I can assure you God was not missing.
God was with us as we watched the morning services together, even though we were not physically next to one another.
God was with us as we ate our Easter meals at home, remembering each other in our prayers as we broke bread.
God was with us as children played in the yard and hunted for Easter eggs.
God was with us as we fellowshipped through virtual spaces.
God was with us this Easter Sunday, just as God is with us every day.
God’s love, God’s grace and God’s peace is always with us.
Even when we struggle and suffer, God is still with us.
The promise and proclamation that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God is one that will stand the test of time.
Yes, even times like these.
Death was not victorious. Darkness did not win.
Even now, as the world struggles and suffers, the darkness will not win.
God is still with us.
Twenty two days. It seems like a long time, doesn’t it?
I have had many conversations with our youth and parents in the last 22 days.
Here is the question I ask often:
“What is your greatest hope when this is all over?”
Some of my favorite responses have been:
- “I hope that we are humbled. That we remember our time apart so that, when we gather together again, we are humble enough to know that we need to be intentional about loving one another.”
- “I hope that when this is all over we will come out on the other side with a renewed passion for relationship. Not only with one another, but most importantly our relationship with God. I hope we can still make time for that.”
- “I just hope that all the people who lost their jobs and had to close their business will get the help they need. I know that I am going to do what I can by encouraging others to stop thinking about themselves and help their neighbors. If we can all do that then maybe there really is hope.”
These statements came from teenagers and adults.
There were so many more, and most followed this same line of thinking.
Being loving, thinking of others instead of ourselves, building our relationships, and making time.
In difficult times we often struggle to see God working amidst the chaos and suffering.
I want to share with you where I see God working.
I see God working on the hearts of our young people right now.
I see people realizing what is truly important in life.
I see people drawing closer to a God who loves them unconditionally.
I see neighbors being friendly to one another and learning each other’s names and things about their families.
I see churches reaching a larger community through virtual spaces and watching God work in the lives of those who don’t have church homes.
Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is a time of renewal and rebirth.
It is a time when we are given the opportunity to offer praise and thanksgiving for a sacrifice so great that it could never be repaid.
God is with us, always and forever.
So let us continue to celebrate Easter and the promise of new life.
Things will continue to be difficult and the struggle will continue to be real.
But we are headed for a new life, my friends.
We are going to see the other side of this, and we will gather together again.
It will be different for most. It won’t look the same.
God will be with us then, just as God is with us now.
Thanks be to God! Amen.