A new word: "Quarantine"
Watch the video message from Bishop Alsted or read the full text:
Thank you, for joining me this afternoon for some reflections on the situation we all share.
These are special and challenging times, and I am deeply impressed by the way in which pastors and leaders creatively have managed to shift the ministry and reach out with worship services, messages, devotionals, hotlines for people in need of someone to talk to, counselling, bringing groceries, supporting health personnel, volunteering in the healthcare system and so much more. I am grateful, and I am proud of our pastors and local churches, who are doing the utmost to serve the community under these difficult circumstances. THANK YOU!
Let us Pray
Lord our God, may each of us in our calling be faithful in our discipleship and loving in our encounters with your children. Help us to talk of you passionately and meaningfully and awaken us to every opportunity to share your good news. We ask for your blessing as we work to bring about your kingdom. Amen.
A few days ago I was driving in my car, and I heard a message from the Danish health department giving us a few simple guidelines on how to behave protect ourselves and other, and to help contain the spread of the Corona virus – it sounded like a message in a science fiction movie, but is wasn’t. It is real, we are actually living this. I cannot visit my children and grandchildren and give them a hug. I cannot visit my mother, who is in a nursing home or my mother in-law, who is hospitalized. And I am sure you experience similar restrictions.
We have a new word in our vocabulary ”quarantine” you probably knew it before, but for the last 10-12 days the word “quarantine” has new significance. In many ways we are all under quarantine - as we are restricted in our movements and physical interaction to prevent the spread of the disease.
Quarantine comes from Medieval Latin and it simply means “forty”, forty days was the time ships would be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during an epidemic. It is really inspired from the Bible, and the most important story is this one, from the gospel of Matthew chapter four.
Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.”
5 After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”
7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.”
8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written,You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.
After 40 days and nights of fasting, Jesus was starving…..
We may not suffer from a lack of food, but we will experience a long period of social distance, that will without doubt be stressful and challenging. Many living alone will feel lonely, in homes with several people we will begin to get on each others nerves.
When Jesus had reached this point of exhaustion and hunger, the devil came to him, with a great suggestion. You can change this, you have the power to turn stones to bread. There are short cuts, easy solutions and quick fixes, and they can be very tempting, especially it they can solve the immediate problem.
NO, Jesus replies, it is written, People won’t live only by bread but by every word spoken by God.
There is more to life than my personal needs. God, in His word to us, has called us to love and to care especially for those, who are weak and marginalized.
Steve Wild is the district chair of the Cornwall district, meaning a leading supervising pastor in the British Methodist church – and he a daily online two minute devotional, which I highly recommend. Yesterday he shared his experience of leaving a supermarket and encountering a homeless man selling the Homeless Magazine. He bought a copy, and the man asked him for a blessing. Steve shared the Lord’s blessing with him, and he then made the point to us, homeless people are among those who will suffer the most during this health crisis. We need to pay special attention to those, who are the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, and to use our imagination to find ways to serve them. There is more to life than my personal needs.
And the temptations continue….Why don’t you test God’s faithfulness. And Satan tops his suggestion by quoting from the scriptures: “I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” Why don’t you test it, to see if it works, have a little faith, come on….
Jesus response to this is:”Don’t test the Lord your God”
You should have faith and trust in God, but you should not be careless or foolish.
There are many voices out there that you should not listen to. Some will claim that the Corona virus pandemic is God’s punishment – do not listen to their foolishness. Some will claim that if you are a believer, you will not be infected – do not listen to their foolishness. Trust Jesus the Son of God, who will help you when you are anxious and carry you through your time of need. Even if you or one of your loved ones are infected and become seriously ill, Jesus will be by your side. He does not promise immunity against infection. But He promises that he will never abandon you no matter what.
Have faith in God, trust God, He will walk with you – and act responsibly.
And the temptations do not end there. There is one more, the ultimate temptation.
I will offer you everything; I will offer you the world – all you need to do is to submit to the dark side.
But there is more to life than everything –there is life itself, there is love. The high cost of submitting to the dark-side is that you lose yourself in the process.
We are only 10-12 days into our mutual quarantine – larger parts of the globe are in quarantine to contain the spread of the virus. You will experience difficult days – and it will get harder. Don’ give in to despair, fear or anger.
Jesus, who prevailed through hard temptations, who emptied himself and gave himself completely in sacrificial and redeeming love to die on the cross and who rose on the third day – is by your side and he will hear your prayers.
I will let Leonard Cohens offer his comment, from one the songs that we published after this death:
If the sun would lose its light
And we lived an endless night
And there was nothing left
That you could feel
If the sea were sand alone
And the flowers made of stone
And no one that you hurt
Could ever heal
Well that's how broken I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I didn't have your love
To make it real
That’s how broken I would be - What my life would seem to me
If I didn't have your love To make it real
But you have his love, and he does make your life real – even when we are in quarantine.
Let us pray
Almighty and loving God, you know that we are set
in the midst of so many and great dangers,
And in the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright:
Give us such strength and protection, to support us in all danger,
and carry us through all temptations; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the Peace that surpassed all comprehension fill and keep you now and into eternal life.