This is the week, on which we will all look back, when everything changed. Every click on a newsfeed seems to bring with it another report of another change to our daily lives:
We’ve kissed handshakes goodbye.
The Stock Market keeps going down. My retirement is in jeopardy! I guess I’ll work several more years!
Stores temporarily closing (Apple, Nike, Under Armour etc).
Some restaurants, bars, movie theatres in certain states, closed.
Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and others moving to “Drive-thru” only.
Even Golden Corral is moving to a “To Go” service only. Can we go back for seconds and thirds?
Major Sports events cancelled. I just heard that MLB opening day is postponed indefinitely.
Amusement Parks (Disney Parks, Universal Studios, Silver Dollar City, etc) temporarily closing or moving back their opening date.
Welcome to the world of COVID-19.
Devin Wright, my son and pastor of Mission Gathering in Issaquah, Washington, commented that March Madness may have been cancelled, but March Madness is still here, just without the basketball.
Unfortunately, preachers and politicians are contributing to the madness.
In all times, especially in changing times, we need leaders who can be trusted. We need leaders who know the facts, who can interpret the facts, and lead us into a better future.
When we, as leaders, fail to interpret the situation accurately, we lose our credibility.
By late winter 1933, the nation had already suffered more than three years of economic depression. More than 11,000 of 24,000 banks had failed. Millions of people were out of work and millions more were working at jobs that barely provided enough to live on. On March 4, 1933, newly elected President, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his first inaugural address, in which he gave us this memorable line, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
But, before he said that, he said this:
“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in your country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”
Drum roll. Get ready for it, here it come – the line we remember: “First of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
There it is. The famous line. But “no fear”came after “Just the facts, ma’am,” (thanks Sgt Joe Friday)
But, that line sounds different when heard with the lines that go before.
Part 1: “Speak the truth, frankly and boldly.” Don’t “shrink from honestly facing conditions in your country today”
Part 2: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Let’s be brutally honest about the situation we face. And, let’s never lose faith that things will get better in the end.
Last Sunday, we canceled our in-person Sunday service at the request of the Greene County Missouri Health Department, and chose instead to live-stream a service with only essential personnel present.
Not every church in our area followed the request of the Health Department. I don’t understand why. Maybe they had legitimate reasons. Maybe not. I just know why we chose to do what we did. When public safety is at risk, which by every account it seems to be, it’s best to act on behalf of the public even when it costs us personally. That just seemed like what love would do.
In the words of Harry Smith, “Perhaps think of it this way: that by staying home, you could save a life. And you know, that feels pretty good.”
Listen to our scientists – even more than to our preachers and politicians. Be loving in all we do.
Fear can lead to discrimination and selfish decisions. Replace our fear with faith, hope, and love, working to create a better world for all.