A Litany for COVID-19

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share a prayer for everyone affected by Coronavirus COVID-19, which is pretty much everyone. Whether we or someone we know has contracted the virus, or our schools and workplaces are closed, this situation probably touches us in some way.

A Litany for the Coronavirus COVID-19

For hope in the midst of despair, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For calm within the storm, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the healing of those who are ill, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the wisdom to balance compassion with social distancing, and to understand that social distancing is also a form of compassion, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the safety of health care workers, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the protection and preservation of the vulnerable and immunocompromised, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those in need of company and fellowship, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the poor, homeless, abused, and all with nowhere to go, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For leaders of governments, workplaces, schools, churches, and other organisations, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For international students who can’t return home and children for whom school lunch is their only guaranteed meal, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the Church to be our Churchiest best to all in need, in as many creative ways as we may need, Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

60 Minute Scripture Reflections #1: The Proclamation of John the Baptist

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God:

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,”’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mark 1:1-8, New Revised Standard Version)

Basic points:

  1. The “good news” is another way to describe the Gospel. It is easier (I think) to explain that the Gospel is good news.
  2. Baptism is “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Repentance means to turn away (Hebrew word teshuvah) and not do something again. “For” implies causation. This means that anyone who is baptized with a heart of repentance will have their sins forgiven.
  3. There are two types of baptisms: water and the Holy Spirit. Water Baptism is that which results in the forgiveness of sins. Holy Spirit baptism isn’t explained in this passage.

Questions/What I Think:

The “good news” mentioned in this passage seems to refer to the coming of Jesus. John the Baptist is preparing people to be ready for when Jesus comes. In order to be ready, the people must be baptized with a pure heart of repentance, which means that something that John says must have convicted them in their spirits, for everyone in Jerusalem and the Judean countryside were going to be baptized. Based on my understanding of Christian theology, the Holy Spirit does the work of convicting individuals (which is not in the external sense of being convicted of a crime, but in the internal sense of having a dissatisfaction or sorrow with oneself). However, the Holy Spirit doesn’t appear on the scene until Jesus begins to be tempted by the devil. So my question #1 is about motivation: How were people convinced? Are there any details left out in the passage for why the people were convicted of their need for repentance? 

June 18-19, 2016: My trip to Israel and a taste of Tel Aviv

This summer, one of my greatest wishes was granted. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel with a Pro-Israel/Jewish Christian organization catered to student leaders. The organization is called Passages and the trip was sponsored by Philos and the Museum of the Bible. Traveling was a little stressful because my family and I arrived at JFK airport much earlier than everyone else and we had a large stretch of time with nothing to do. Fortunately, I was able to get a cup of coffee and keep in touch with the group via Facebook–thank Heaven for free airport WiFi!

Despite the fact that I had never traveled alone before, I was not nervous going through customs and being interviewed by myself. Fortunately, El Al staff were very friendly and professional. I felt very safe and comfortable under their charge. I was also comforted by the presence of one of my friends from Princeton.

The day had barely begun and I was still seated in gate B31 when one of the students was already speaking prophetic words over us. This was while we were waiting for our baggage to be checked a second time. I’m really glad that even though Israel and El Al have heightened security, I wasn’t scared, nervous, or stressed. The only thing that was disappointing was that when I got my suitcase back from Ben Gurion/El Al baggage claim, the little padlock was missing. That’s not their fault. I just left it open for security reasons.

After arriving at the airport at approximately 5:30, my plane finally took off at 11:30, headed for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel. I spent the majority of the flight sleeping, mostly because I was tired, and partly because I was afraid to eat anything on the plane. I wasn’t sure if I would become nauseated, even though the food was certified Kosher. I kept myself entertained when I was awake by reading the Hebrew names of the states and countries we passed. The Hebrew names for places are exactly the same as their English names. Fortunately, I know enough phonics to be able to notice that.

Once we had arrived, we felt the effects of the time zone change. Plane takeoff was at 11:30pm US time. 9 hours and 50 minutes later, we would have landed at 9:20 am. However, in Israel, the time is 7 hours ahead. Therefore, the time ended up being 5:20pm. It felt as if I had been flying for an entire day. When we finally arrived in Israel, customs was a breeze. After meeting our tour guide, driver, and security, we boarded the bus and went to an incredible Middle Eastern restaurant called The Old Man and The Sea. The food literally just kept coming, course after course, until we could eat no more. And then it still just kept on coming. The waiters were also awesome, holding competitions to see who could balance the most dishes when removing them from the table.

Tomorrow we go to the holy sites in Jaffa.