A Future with Hope

The history of the people of God contains numerous examples of shared hardship and ordeal. For example, consider the plight of a large number of people from the Jewish kingdom of Judah who were taken as captives and forcibly deported to Babylon to live as exiles in the 6th century B.C.   This was a crisis of faith for the people who had been taught that they were God’s Chosen People, a time of lamentation and despair. In Babylon, the exiles had to accommodate themselves to new ways of living and find new ways to worship.   There were false prophets who prophesied that God would quickly bring deliverance for the exiles.   This didn’t happen, but the prophetical writings of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the latter part of Isaiah did promise that God had not given up on the exiles.  While the exiles still were in captivity, Jeremiah wrote letters to them, including this verse:  “ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.“  [Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV]

Our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has required many of us to accommodate new ways of living, and also to find new ways to worship.  We have experienced lamentation, loss, and despair.   And yet we firmly believe that God’s future plan for us also is to prosper us and give us hope.   We believe that, with God’s help, we will get through to the other side of this pandemic!  
The exiles in Babylon learned many things during their ordeal.   What are some of the lessons that we have learned during our pandemic?

Let us pray.  Gracious and loving God, you are leading us through a time of isolation, difficulty, and tears.  We recognize that we still are in the midst of crisis, and yet you have called us to move beyond our lament and fear, and to rededicate ourselves to your mission.   You have promised us that, regardless of our current situation, you will work through it to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future.

Everything that we have, and everything that we are, has come to us from you.  You have provided us with abundant resources, and you have entrusted us with your mission to love and serve the world and our local community.  Help us to completely trust that you will continue to provide for our needs, so that we will be joy-filled and generous partners in sharing Christ’s love.  And please bless all of the leaders and participants of Peace Lutheran Church to be fruitful in our ministry of providing hospitality, worship, learning, and service in the Name of Jesus in Austin, Texas, and wherever else we find an opportunity.   Amen.