SERMON TITLE: “Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis”
SERMON TEXT: John 11:1-6, 17-27, 38-44
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: March 29, 2020, via Facebook Live Worship during Coronavirus Season
Is anyone out there struggling? Are you feeling weird and out of sorts? Me too. I’ve found myself on edge, more irritable than normal. I hate to admit how much junk food I’ve been stress eating. Remember my stash of Hershey kisses I told you about last week? Well, they’re all gone now, along with all my Girl Scout cookies, and all my pretzels. And a couple nights this past week I had strange dreams that I actually remembered after I woke up. Those are all indicators of trouble for me . . . indicators that have occurred even when the coronavirus hasn’t affected me all that directly.
Unlike other people who have suffered with COVID-19 sickness, seen their loved ones die, been forced into quarantine, lost their jobs and their livelihood—or medical professionals who have had to put themselves in imminent risk every day while caring for us—my life has been a breeze. I personally don’t know anyone who has died from coronavirus, or even gotten sick or had a confirmed case. But, still, because we have to take these social distancing measures; because we’ve had to cancel trips and activities into which we had invested time, money, and hopes; because we’ve all had steep learning curves to do new things in new ways; because we can’t get all those hugs and other physical interactions that we’re used to; and because of the uncertainty of so many things—anxiety is in the air that we breathe. Stress is in our minds and our bodies. I’ve been feeling it, and I bet you’ve been feeling it too.
One really good article that I read this past week indicated that this discomfort we’re feeling is actually grief. The loss of normalcy, the loss of certainty, the loss of activities that we enjoy, the loss of physical closeness with our friends, the loss of school, the loss of sports, and the loss of life have all been compounding grief upon us.
That’s why I decided to change my sermon topic for today. Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to change so many things, I figured it would be OK to take a detour from our Lenten series on “The Seven Deadly Sins.” We’d been working through that list since the end of February, and Lust was the sin scheduled for today. While some of you may have been sitting on the edge of your seats in anticipation of that topic, to me, it seemed more helpful to acknowledge the distress that we’re all feeling and see if we could find some hope in the midst of the crisis.