These passages have always been true, but they hit closer to home to this preacher and maybe you too:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” (James 4:13-14). For the first time ever, we can truly say: Hindsight is 2020. In looking back on 2020, what priorities have been revealed? What we thought was important may not be that important.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2). Preaching in 2020 qualifies as “out of season” preaching. Two thirds of the crowd are sitting on a couch watching the sermon. Have seeds been planted? Are they growing? The preacher doesn’t know. It’s out of season. Great patience and careful instruction are needed more than ever.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). Which is worse: dying from a virus or dying from a lonely heart? Loneliness is real and heartbreaking. Too many have died alone or mostly alone. We need each other more than ever.
Mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15). The preacher says, “Amen.” The funeral is over. Now what? There’s nothing magical in the sliced ham and cheesy potatoes served at a funeral dinner. The unspoken message in our eating with relatives and lifelong friends is closure can happen, life moves forward and Jesus is with us.
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:2). The pandemic has revealed both sides of this literal coin. Givers give and greedy don’t. Money has little to do with this equation. Jesus was right (duh). You can judge a person by their fruit.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25). Please note this observation has been confirmed repeatedly by on-line worshippers. They sense it. They know it’s happening. Their hearts are growing colder. They don’t like it or want it, but a fade is occurring. How can it not? We need each other to avoid critical attitudes, vacuumed opinions and self-focused agendas that grow when we are absent. We need each other to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Our gathering is indispensable but must be safe.
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:44). The cliché is wrong. Death and taxes are not the only certainties in life, Jesus’ return is certain. Jesus is coming again. The Day is approaching. Am I ready? Are you?
This list could be longer, but I pray 2021 will call me to:
- Prioritize Jesus (pandemic or no)
- Be Faithful in preaching no matter the season.
- Come alongside the lonely or mourning.
- Be Generous no matter the bottom line.
- Have an unswervingly commitment to our indispensable gathering
- Be ready to see Jesus whatever may occur in 2021
Whatever happens in 2021, I want to be faithful, generous, and ready.