– Geoff Milton
In difficult times like the current pandemic and the associated restrictions, it is easy to feel isolated not only from one another but also from God.
We can’t meet all together in the same way to encourage one another, care for one another, pray for one another or worship together. I recently heard a Christian leader, Mike Raiter, speaking about the importance of singing in expressing our joy in the Lord together. Somehow singing solo or as a couple in the Sunday Youtube service with Bishop Paul Barker is not like the worship in heaven described in Revelation 5 with the heavenly host singing songs of praise to Jesus: “with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” and “thousands upon thousands” of angels worshipping him. However, all earthly worship is just a shadow of worship in heaven, and we are doing the best we can!
I pray the current restrictions do not tempt us to drift away from God. Nor should we begin to doubt God’s love for his people, including us, though we may feel isolated.
I have been studying the Old Testament book of Esther with the help of Peter Adam’s excellent commentary. One theme in Esther is God’s protection and care for his people. In Esther, the Jews in exile in Persia faced imminent destruction when Haman, a high official, persuaded Xerxes the Persian king to issue an official order for all Jews to be killed on a certain date. This was more than persecution, it was genocide (Esther 3).
But in a series of remarkable events, clearly orchestrated by God (though his name is never mentioned), Esther, a Jewish woman, was made queen, and risking her life, persuaded the king to completely change his order to destroy God’s people (Esther 8). God’s people were saved, because of God’s love for them and his power to protect them.
We see God’s love and care for his people throughout the Bible.
Referring to God rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt and sustaining them in the wilderness, Moses sings in Deut. 32:10-11 :
“He found them wandering through the desert,
a desolate, wind-swept wilderness.
He protected them and cared for them,
as he would protect himself.
Like an eagle teaching its young to fly,
catching them safely on its spreading wings,
the Lord kept Israel from falling”.
In the New Testament we read in Ephesians 5:25-27 of God’s love for his people the church in our rescue by the death of Jesus.
Read this remembering that it refers to us at St Edward’s, and all churches.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”.
Be sure that God loves and cares for his people the church, as well as us as individuals. Times may be difficult at the moment, but hold fast in prayer and action to God’s unfailing love for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection to save us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin and to give us eternal life now and forever.