The Pastor’s Study – December 2020

As I write this, it’s December 3rd and I’m safe at home (essentially under a self-imposed quarantine) after being exposed to someone at a funeral who received a positive test for COVID after the fact. I’m not concerned for myself as I have experienced absolutely no symptoms and was observing safety protocols, but I remain deeply concerned for those who are especially at risk if they should contract this deadly virus. The past couple of weeks has shown me just how quickly one can go from feeling fine to a ventilator in the ICU, but it’s also demonstrated to me that the small precautions recommended by the CDC, like wearing face masks and washing hands thoroughly and regularly, actually DO prevent transmission. I have to confess that I had my doubts about how effective these could really be, but not any more.

Which has had me thinking about some of the similar practices of Christianity: those small things we know that we should be doing to preserve our spiritual health, but that we may have given up practicing (if we ever did them in the first place). Some examples could be: prayer, regularly reading the Bible, attending worship, or giving an offering of yourself to those in need. 

Perhaps your neglected ‘best practice’ of Christianity is one of these or something else entirely. Do we do the small work of faith regularly, or do we strap it under our chin like a completely ineffective face mask. Sure, you can convince yourself and maybe others that you’re playing along, but ultimately it’s not going to work for you. Taking the small step of just wearing it could have made all the difference.

I’ve learned this lesson more than a few times, sometimes the hard way, but not as many times or with as serious consequences that I deserved. All of which, I’m convinced, is solely by the grace of God. Usually it’s a close call like this that gets my attention and I realize that I may have let a pendulum swing too far in one direction (often for a very good and valid reason) and now it’s time to swing it the other way, back closer to those ‘best practices.’ We know what they are, but we neglect them because perhaps we don’t believe that they can make a real difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

When I dust off my Bible and start reading it again or pick up my prayer life after a few weeks when I wasn’t feeling it, I never cease to be amazed that when I do what I know I should, it somehow just works. It may not happen the first time I resume, but I typically find that God works better and faster than I expected. 

The strain of the pandemic on our health isn’t limited to our bodies or our bottom lines – it’s also impacting our spiritual health in unprecedented ways. What ‘best practice’ of your faith journey needs to be rekindled during this Advent season of preparation. Where have you recently encountered a close call? What did you learn from it and what did you do as a result? Let every heart prepare Christ room as we watch, wait, pray, and hope for God to surprise all creation with blessings and healing beyond human imagination.

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