By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.
8 All you nations, bless our God!
Let the sound of his praise be heard!
9 God preserved us among the living;
he didn’t let our feet slip a bit.
10 But you, God, have tested us—
you’ve refined us like silver,
11 trapped us in a net,
laid burdens on our backs,
12 let other people run right over our heads—
we’ve been through fire and water.
But you brought us out to freedom!
13 So I’ll enter your house
with entirely burned offerings.
I’ll keep the promises I made to you,
14 the ones my lips uttered,
the ones my mouth spoke when I was in deep trouble.
15 I will offer the best burned offerings to you
along with the smoke of sacrificed rams.
I will offer both bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come close and listen,
all you who honor God;
I will tell you what God has done for me:
17 My mouth cried out to him
with praise on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished evil in my heart,
my Lord would not have listened.
19 But God definitely listened.
He heard the sound of my prayer.
20 Bless God! He didn’t reject my prayer;
he didn’t withhold his faithful love from me.
Psalm 66:8-20, Common English Bible
Once again, we sing a Psalm of praise. We sing of God’s love and care for the world even in the darkest times. The whole world has been tested, but despite that, God has brought the Israelites out of their troubles. They’ve been burdened and struggled through fire and water, but God brought them out to freedom. Now the individual Psalmist is ready to give sacrifices to God, to keep promises that he made when he was in deep trouble. He prayed and was answered, and now offers songs of praise.
Throughout the ages there have been repeated trials and disasters. In each time, God was there, God was working among the people during the previous pandemic in 1918, during the world wars, during the black plague. God is with us through the Covid-19 pandemic. God is working in the world and God is working in each one of us.
God is with the scientists who are trying to find and effective treatment and with those working on vaccines. God has given the gift of creative thinking and experience with other diseases to the scientists doing this work. God is giving courage to the health care workers going into hospitals and nursing homes to treat those infected and the love and care they bring to their patients despite their own risk. God is with those who are trying to make ends meet and keep their businesses despite the shutdown. God is with those of us who are isolated, so that we are never alone.
And so, as things improve and we begin to slowly open up businesses, we will praise the God who has been with us throughout this experience and we will find ways to sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for all God has done.
A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet
By Rev. Dr. Jacquelyn Brannen, Northern Maine District Superintendent
Lord, during this pandemic, life has become so confusing.
There is fear, grief and so much anxiety.
And yet, your Spirit resides within me. Sometimes, I feel you as near as my breath.
Sometimes, I long to feel you but cannot.
Today, I will trust that you are here. I will trust that you are with me even when my emotions hide your presence.
Today, Lord, I will concentrate on keeping your commandments and I will trust that the Spirit that resides within will help me with that, for I do love you God.
Thank you for loving me.