Preaching in a Pandemic
Preaching in a Pandemic
In this post I begin a series on recommendations on how to go about preaching in a pandemic such as we are experiencing right now. When we, as human beings, engage in things that cause us loss, it can easily become a time of questioning our faith.
As I was preparing to write this blog post, I thought about my sister’s family. She and her husband had four children, a son and three daughters. The greatest challenge in their faith lives was when my brother-in-law had a series of heart attacks. The first one happened while the family was visiting us when we lived in Arizona for a short time. Thankfully, he recovered after considerable time in intensive care, and flew to a hospital near his home in Michigan aboard a medical flight.
For several years, his recovery was amazing. He stopped smoking, a habit for many years. He stopped having the calorie rich lunches that characterized his work life as an executive of a trucking company. Alcohol intake was severely curtailed. And he began to exercise, eventually running regularly with his daughter.
Many heart attack victims, I learned later, slip from their initial fear-based recovery after a period of time, and revert to old habits. That happened with my brother-in-law. The time running decreased, the lunches returned, and alcohol became part of his regular lifestyle again. That set the stage for another heart attack, and then another.
For the last several weeks of his life, this hard-charging executive was confined to a hospital bed, connected to various tubes, with oxygen supplied via a mask. His heart was so weak that it could not pump enough blood to his body, and as a result, he couldn’t think straight. For one period of time, he thought he and everyone around him was dead. I remember the surprise visiting him and having his ask, “So, Bruce, how do you like being dead?”
He died after yet another heart attack.
The Point For Preaching in a Pandemic
The story goes on with his children’s reaction to this tragic death. Before he died, Harve (my brother-in-law) called each child in and told them how important it was to commit their lives to Jesus. This happened during a rare lucid time in the last week of his life. My sister told me that this was a powerful moment for each of the children.
However, three out of the four concluded eventually that there must not be a God. If there was a good God, how could he allow such a horrible thing to happen?
This is a common reaction to tragedy. It is more widespread in countries such as mine (the US), where people live a fairly predictable and comfortable lifestyle, but it is also common in places of repeated challenges. Where is God when things go wrong?
We are certainly in one such time right now, all around the world. The Covid-19 virus has taken the lives of hundred of thousands of people, and has inflicted many hundreds of thousands of others with on-going health problems. Yet, some fringe Christian groups in my country have even gone so far as resume worship services with no protections, believing, as they say, that “God will protect me.” And then people die, or become very sick, with long-lasting affects.
So What Do You Preach in a Pandemic?
So, how do you go about preaching in a pandemic such as we are experiencing now? In the next several posts we are going to explore the variety of things that you should address in your preaching. They include things like giving hope, focusing on the promise of heaven, and the idea of ruthless trust. Come along with me in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a link to sermons that preachers have preached during this pandemic for your consideration, and below is the news story of one pastor in Milwaukee, WI who has some reflection on how to preach during a pandemic. This is another link for your reflection, to a previous post that I did on Where Sermons Come From. This is just for your further reflection on how you will preach in a pandemic.