By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.
The Lord rules—
the nations shake!
He sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures—
the earth quakes!
2 The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them thank your great and awesome name.
He is holy!
4 Strong king[a] who loves justice,
you are the one who established what is fair.
You worked justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Magnify the Lord, our God!
Bow low at his footstool!
He is holy!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel too among those who called on his name.
They cried out to the Lord, and he himself answered them—
7 he spoke to them from a pillar of cloud.
They kept the laws and the rules God gave to them.
8 Lord our God, you answered them.
To them you were a God who forgives
but also the one who avenged their wrong deeds.
9 Magnify the Lord our God!
Bow low at his holy mountain
because the Lord our God is holy!
Psalm 99, Common English Bible
God is Holy, God rules. God has been with us from the beginning of human existence. God was with Moses and Aaron before there was a temple, even before the Ten Commandments had been handed down. God ruled over the Israelites and over all the nations, and God still rules today.
When Jesus was born as a human baby, and grew to be the Messiah, when he gave his life for our sins, and was resurrected to bring us salvation, he showed us a better way to live. Jesus taught us to bring his kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Jesus loves justice as God does. Jesus showed us the way to care for the poor and needy, to love our enemies and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He taught us who our neighbors are.
In this Psalm, God loves justice, God forgives our sins, but also punishes them. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross does not give us carte blanche to do whatever we want, Jesus expects us to repent and become like him, recognizing that as humans we will all have our bad moments.
In this time of pandemic COVID-19, we are seeing where healthcare disparities exist, as we see the socio-economic differences in who dies from the virus, not just the aged, but those with diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Nearly ¾ of those who have died have been African-American or Hispanic. As people become unemployed, they are losing their employer based health insurance. COBRA is expensive and how do you pay it when you’re unemployed? We are called to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
Where are we called to be advocates and make a real difference in the lives of others? Remember, God is holy;God calls us to justice; and, God loves us and all the nations; God loves the poor and doesn’t care about the color of your skin.
Bow low before God’s majesty, because the Lord our God is Holy.
A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet
By Rev. Dr. David V. Calhoun, Superintendent of the Connecticut/Western Massachusetts District (based on John 17:1-11 & Acts 1:6-14)
O God, we open our collective souls to your presence, and we bow before the mystery of your creative power. We lift our hearts to you as the source of our creation, and our help in every time of need. As we find ourselves at the dawning of a new day, we ask for your continued strength as we reach for greater knowledge. Impart upon us the spiritual gifts that we need for this day; and for all of our tomorrows.
Though we encounter the trials of life, you, O God, remain our constant companion. Be with those undergoing difficulties in coping with the challenges of life today. You know our fears when life seems unfair and when we feel faint of heart. You know the angst that obstructs us, the temptations we resist, and the limitations we must overcome. Help us to release our resentments, and fill us with your peace.
We live in the assurance that you free us from that which is destructive. Preserve our lives according to your will, and for the sake of your realm. Help us to seek your good for the world, and to serve one another in the fellowship of our Christ like spirits. Give us courage in the midst of this pandemic, and grant us peace as we are walk through uncharted valleys. Make us valiant in our service to you and the world. Grant us with a sense of your presence, and fill us with courage as we come again to a greater certainty.
We thank you for the qualities of goodness, mercy, wisdom and love that you have blessed us with; and may we be a witness to these things. Amen and Amen