“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

Here we are in the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of a New Church Year. Our past church year was challenging and strange. This one promises to be more of the same due to the continued Jim need for social distancing and masks. Perhaps, if you are like me, you have grown weary of it and in your weariness, you have called out to the Lord: “How long Oh Lord?” We earnestly desire that He lift this tribulation from us, for it has taken many friends from us and disrupted our lives in so many ways. 

We long to return to normal, but if we think about it, we should not, necessarily, want to go back to the way things were. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has shown us what is most important to us: our relationship with Jesus and with our local church body. We value Church for worship, fellowship, and encouragement all of which have taken on a different form these days. And so we can take comfort from the words of the apostle Paul who tells us that God will sustain us. Paul wrote this epistle to correct errors and problems which had arisen among the Christians in Corinth. Because these brethren were primarily Greeks converted from paganism their cultural background and upbringing still had a perverse influence on them. Nevertheless Paul opened his epistle not with words of reproof but with words of praise and encouragement. 

These words of encouragement give us great comfort. They tell us that we who have faith in Christ are a lot better equipped to sustain the challenges of the pandemic and the political chaos surrounding us. Those who trust in science and government will find themselves sadly disappointed  now and on the day of judgment for they have no such assurance. But if we are convinced of the truth of the gospel, if we are thankful for the grace of God in our lives, if we passionately love the Lord Jesus who died for us, if we eagerly await His return, we too, as imperfect as we are, will have great zeal in the exercise of our spiritual gifts and talents which will reach out to those in the world. It is the Lord who works in and through us to tell them of the mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus..