The sports world has lost some famous figures. Al Kaline (Detroit Tigers), Curly Neal (Harlem Globetrotters), and of course, Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers) who perished along with eight others, including his daughter, in a tragic helicopter crash.
And then there is the ever-mounting death toll from Covid-19. You can’t avoid the running count of infections and deaths in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s everywhere. Of course, our common complaint concerning the coronavirus is that it’s taken away our way of life – a different kind of “death,” to be sure, but a loss nonetheless.
Much angst and ink has been spilled over these and other deaths in 2020. People bemoan the end of an era, the loss of one’s childhood, and collectively wail, “This has got to stop!” As in, “2020, you’ve been so mean. You’ve taken away so many important people. You’ve changed our way of life. You need to go away. You need to stop!”
One question: does merely saying/posting/protesting, “This has got to stop!” end the fact that famous people – and many, many more not-so-famous people – die all the time? All. The. Time. Every single day…
During the rest of this year, more people will die. It’s a fact of life. More famous people will die. And so will many, many more not-so-famous people who probably mean a lot more to you personally than Kenny Rogers or Kobe. Perhaps even people you actually know and care about personally, people with whom you’ve lived and cried and laughed. People you’ve held. People for whom you’ve prayed.
It may be a pitfall of the preaching profession, but I suspect that many others have this same thought when a celebrity dies: Did that person believe in Jesus Christ? Did he or she die in faith? In the end, this is all that matters.
May I offer another take on what’s “got to stop?” Here’s what needs to simply go away in 2020: People depriving themselves of God’s blessings. What? Who would do that? Why? How do people deprive themselves of God’s blessings? They stay away from Word and Sacrament. When people keep themselves away from God’s Word, they choose to deny themselves blessings God wants them to have.
How does that stop? Here’s a call to action, in the form of a prayer: “Lord, help me to be in your Word daily, and to make worship a priority. Lord, lead me to take your Sacrament regularly.”
Something else that’s got to stop? People depriving others of God’s eternal blessings by not telling them the good news about Jesus. When we refrain from speaking about sin and grace, about God’s love in Christ, we’re not dispensing the greatest gifts we have to give. “Help me, Lord, to reach out to others with your saving Word.”
Please consider: this is a most amazing time to reach people with the good news of a Savior! With whom can you share the good news today? It can be as easy as a phone/text/email conversation. Share a printed devotion. Share a link to a worship service/sermon from a faithful preacher. Do it this week! Easter is just days away.
Time won’t stop until God says it’s time. Neither will death. But for God’s people, death’s bark is worse than its bite. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57) God bless you and yours as the rollercoaster ride of 2020 continues.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom…Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:12,14)
30 Days of Gratitude:
#8 – Teachers who’ve figured out ways to deliver content/learning to students and parents who are “all in”
#9 – Our Savior’s gift of Holy Communion (the 9th is Maundy Thursday); God speed the day when we are able to partake together once again
Keep sharing the Good News,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand