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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

May 2020

So…seen any good movies lately? It’s impossible to steer a conversation away from the pandemic, isn’t it? It is on everyone’s mind and has not left anyone unaffected in some way. Every day goes down in the history books, but this time period that we are living in now will be particularly written about and remembered years from now.

Maybe the world needed to slow down. Maybe the earth needed a break. God seemed to know that what he created would need a “rest” every so often.

Leviticus 25: 

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them:  When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a Sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord…You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine year…and you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you…you shall provide for the redemption of the land.”

I am not aware of a single time in the history of the world that this has actually occurred. Is God taking a “bad” thing and doing something good for the redemption of creation? Now let me be clear about something - God didn’t “cause” the virus in order to redeem the land at the expense of life and economy. God is as devastated as we are with all the trouble this virus has caused around the world. But we know that God can take the trouble of this world and use it for good. Always has, always will, and this is no exception.

If you read the whole of chapter 25, you will find that God promises to provide enough in the years leading up to a jubilee that the people will be provided for in the years following. I wonder if God knew something was coming that we couldn’t imagine and was preparing us for it. The world has been prospering lately, and, especially in this country, we have had the strongest economy in a long time. Can you imagine what this whole thing would look like if it hit in the midst of a recession or depression?

We have all been called upon to make major adjustments to our way of life. People yearn to go back to “normal” but perhaps “normal” is not where we should go. May God lead us safely out of this and into a new normal. Always has, always will for, as the old song goes “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” I will refer you to Psalm 46 yet again:  “Therefore we will not fear…”

Pastor Alan

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