35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35, 37-39
Three deaths. This week, I received the news of three deaths. Someone’s husband. Someone’s friend. Someone’s son. Three deaths. Three families grieving at the start of Holy Week.
It’s not such a great surprise, I suppose, to hear news of death. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, after all, and we’ve been warned to brace ourselves for a difficult week. A week of rising infection rates. A week of loss and grief.
Yet even as I brace myself, I’m struck by one sobering fact: none of these three individuals died as a result of COVID-19 — not directly, at least. We’re bracing ourselves for deaths related to coronavirus… but the truth is that people continue to struggle with other illnesses and conditions in this moment, even as they did before this pandemic. This week, people will lose loved ones to coronavirus… but they will also lose loved ones to cancer, heart disease, addiction, accidents, violence, and more. That reality has not changed. It’s a reality that’s leading me to a cemetery for a graveside funeral service this very afternoon.
It may seem like a dark reflection for this start of this week, this Holy Week… and to some extent, it is. But it also gives me cause to reflect on the words I so often share with families in these times of grief and loss, words that remind me of a love that is more powerful than death or fear, words that we find in today’s reading from Romans.
Nothing will be able to separate us from God’s love, Romans teaches us. Nothing. Not the struggles we face or the pains we experience, not the uncertainty of life or the weight of grief. Not the presence of pandemics or the fear of exposure. None of it can separate us from God’s love.
In these times when corona-fueled fear, this truth anchors us, orients us, reassures us, and fills us with hope. No matter what we experience in the midst of this pandemic, we can count on the boundless, matchless, endless love of God.
For I am convinced, friends, that neither death, nor life, nor fear, nor isolation, nor powers, nor pandemics, nor shortages, nor sorrows, nor things present, nor things to come, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Indeed my, friends:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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