“Is Christ coming again?”

“Is Christ coming again?”
I have heard this question quite often. After recent events in the world it isn’t that unreasonable a question to ask. But at the same time, history shows that the world has been through times of crisis before. Remember the fall of Rome, or even the Bubonic Plague? Theologians such as Augustine and Luther responded to these crises in their own time, often with a sense of urgency, but ultimately with a sense of hope.
It seems, my fellow believers, we are in one of those critical moments of human history where the world of tomorrow will not be the world as it was before. What will that future look like is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the days of safely gathering in large numbers for sporting and cultural events has come to pass. Perhaps we will culturally become more “introverted” as we practice this new reality called “social distancing.” Perhaps large bricks and mortar church buildings will become less central to our worship life, opting for smaller gatherings in people’s homes around the dinner table, or perhaps online formats. Whatever happens, we know that Christ still dwells with his people. And although we may not be able to receive him sacramentally for a time, we know that Christ has not left us alone in our present crisis, but in fact has been preparing our faith for such a time as this. The question “is Christ coming again” misses in some respects that Christ is here with us now, and has been for all of human history. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are the church, Christ’s body, for such a time as this, and though we are apart physically, we are connected in Christ. We are not alone. God is with us.
Please stay tuned in the days ahead in regards to worship. It appears we may not be meeting again for quite some time if the current projections of this pandemic unfold as expected through the early summer (even the Vatican has already decided to celebrate Holy Week this year “without the physical presence of the faithful”). But let’s be hopeful and take this on a week by week case.
If you feel unsettled, and somewhat paralyzed and in shock, please know that you are not alone. I myself feel as though the forward momentum in my life has come to a sudden screeching halt. Life isn’t the same lately. We’re all trying to adjust to this new reality. I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of friends recently over the phone. We are each just a phone call away if we need to talk or hear the comforting sound of a familiar voice. The church phone forwards to my cellphone: 717-245-2475 I’m happy to talk about anything or nothing, and pray with you.
Here’s a hymn to leave you with. I recorded it with my phone last summer when I was at Gettysburg for their Pride festival. The text is below.
“Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart” by Martin Schalling, 1532-1608
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-18781. Lord, Thee I love with all my heart;
I pray Thee ne’er from me depart,
With tender mercies cheer me.
Earth has no pleasure I would share,
Yea, heaven itself were void and bare
If Thou, Lord, wert not near me.
And should my heart for sorrow break,
My trust in Thee no one could shake.
Thou art the Portion I have sought;
Thy precious blood my soul has bought.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
Forsake me not! I trust Thy Word.

2. Yea, Lord, ’twas Thy rich bounty gave
My body, soul, and all I have
In this poor life of labor.
Lord, grant that I in every place
May glorify Thy lavish grace
And serve and help my neighbor.
Let no false doctrine me beguile
And Satan not my soul defile.
Give strength and patience unto me
To bear my cross and follow Thee.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
In death Thy comfort still afford.

3. Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.


For Christian M. (Marines) and all service personnel.

For the friends and family of Barry Sherman (Gary’s brother) and Paul Sheaffer (Ruth’s brother) who recently died.

For those in our congregation who are ill or recovering from illness this week, their friends, and the loved ones who care for them,

Don and Joanne, Jacques, Pam, Betty Lou, Mark, Paula, Pat, Judy, Seth, Paula, Samara Lee, Marge, DJ, Margaret, the Valezquez family, the Boyne family, the Hanes family and all who ask the Lord’s healing and mercy.
Christ’s Peace,
Vicar Tom

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