Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
Upper St. Croix Parish UMC
April 24, 2020
“Our Mourning Turns into Dancing”
“To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord, I made supplication: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalm 30:8-12, NRSV)
The fear and anxiety about that we do not know how long it could be under the “Stay at Home Order,” lead us to buy up a large number of daily necessities and foods. So, most shops and groceries sold out them fast. It began before about one month ago, and now it is continuing. Furthermore, COVID 19 pandemic causes an increase in the highest unemployment rate and an economic crisis as well as a shockingly high death rate throughout the world.
We are facing a severe medical war with COVID 19 over the world. Medical staffs are fighting the first line of the war, being exposed to the possible risk contamination seriously. On the other hand, those who are under the “Stay at Home Order,” including students and unemployed people are going to be depressed. I heard that the medications of sleeping aid and alcoholic beverage are selling out more than before. The COVID 19 pandemic brought a spiritual and emotional war as well.
That being said, many people try to encourage one another with “a world of heart.” Even though we could not see in person due to keeping social distancing, some still celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, and even wedding ceremonies via “drive-thru party.” Moreover, some are getting closer to care one another, using phone calls, texts, emails, social media, and facetime.
When I called our church members, wondering how they are doing in this challenging time due to COVID 19 pandemic, they would take care of me asking how I am doing. Even though I moved here alone in August last year, I got many family members in Jesus Christ. Also, we could not see each other in person due to “Stay at Home Order,” we know, and we feel that we are connected in the love of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
“Stay at Home Order” leads me to grow closer to God. My anxiety and fear of this challenging time made me focus on the words of God and praying for others who suffer against COVID 19. While I was praying to God one day, one passage came to my mind. It is Jesus’ last order to his disciples before he lifts up to heaven. “While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.” (Acts1:4). After Jesus died on the cross, his disciples stayed at home with fear and anxiety to be arrested and persecuted as Jesus did. After his resurrection, the higher priests and Jewish leaders with Roman soldiers tried to capture his disciples more than before. Therefore, his disciples were getting more difficulties. Whenever they stay at home or gather together, they used to lock the doors with fear.
Jesus presented himself alive to his disciples by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days. However, he should be taken up to heaven soon, and left his last order to them, “not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.” Jesus knew the fear of his disciples. Nevertheless, he must leave them. Instead of staying with them more, he ordered them, “do not leave Jerusalem but wait there for the promise of the Father. Jerusalem was the most dangerous place for his disciples at that time because the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers were there to arrest them. “Jerusalem” means not only the city but also sanctuary (church) because the temple was in Jerusalem. Jesus promised his disciples that if they do not leave Jerusalem, he will send them the Holy Spirit, who protects and guides them. Therefore, his disciples stayed all together with mourning for Jesus and fear for arresting in one place where Jesus had the last supper with them, focusing to pray at all. Finally, the Holy Spirit came to them as Jesus promised them, and they overcame all their fears. Their fear and mourning turned to dance and praise in convincing faith. Their prayers empowered them to have confidence in God who protects and helps them, and their prayers equipped them for witnesses of Jesus Christ for their new mission.
I hope that we pray all together that our fear and morning may turn to praise and to dance in God. May switch to empowering those who fight with COVID in the first line! May turn to hope for those who are in depression and sadness! May turn to consolation for those who lost their beloved! May switch to see each other in person for those who are longing for! God may hear us!