Rejoicing in the Good, Hoping for the Better: A Reflection on the Gospel in this Time of Quarantine

Rejoicing in the Good, Hoping for the Better!

The law (of God) operates in the categories of good and bad.  The law tells us what to do and what not to do, what is holy and what is not holy, what is the stuff of life and what is the stuff of death.  

The gospel, however, operates in the categories of good and better.  This means that the gospel is always a gift; the answer of the gospel is always yes; the amount of the gospel is always more; the feel of the gospel is always joy; the relationship of the gospel is always unity; the proximity of the gospel is always close;… surely you get the point by now!

Whenever we receive the gospel of God, that is, the gifts of faith in Jesus and His death for us, we are always receiving something good.  In this time of quarantine when we must receive the preaching of the Word via audio and Youtube and when Christians are restricted to gathering only with their immediate family, we continue to acknowledge that even in this present context we are receiving the gospel, and the gospel is always good.  Therefore as we gather for family devotions and tune in on our computers or smartphones to watch the preacher:
  • We continue to rejoice that salvation is ours in Christ.

  • We continue to rejoice that the Word of God has power no matter how it is received into our ears.

  • We continue to rejoice that the fellowship of saints continues to be bound together by our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus even when we cannot gather in one place.

  • We continue to rejoice that wherever and whenever our prayers ascend to our heavenly Father, He surely hears and answers them.

  • We continue to rejoice that we have the opportunity to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy and to take this command of God seriously even if not within the walls of the church building.

Yet even as we rejoice in the good of the gospel we receive during this time, we also remain hopeful for the better.  We recognize that:
  • Hearing the Word of God from our Bibles and computer screens and phones is good.
  • Being physically present to hear the preached Word and to receive the Absolution from a called servant of God who is physically present with us is better.  
  • Knowing that God continually upholds the universe by the Word of His power is good.
  • Having our almighty God present with us by the body and blood of Jesus for our special comfort and confidence is better.

After all, our God is a God of presence: real, physical, historical presence.  This is how God has always been:
  • from the time He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden,
  • to the time He reclined by the oaks of Mamre with Abraham,
  • to the time He dwelt with His people in the temple,
  • to the time He was made man among us in the person of Jesus Christ,
  • to the times He is present with forgiveness and victory over death by His body   and blood in the bread and wine,
  • to the coming time when He will be really, physically, historically present with us who will be around the throne of God and of the Lamb in ceaseless worship and joy for all eternity.

So then for the present time let us rejoice that God is blessing us with His good gospel in our daily family prayer and meditation on the Word, and through His gift of technology.  Let us also not forget that the gospel is always more, and that soon we will be able to receive again the even better gift of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the real, physical, historical, forgiving, comforting, and strengthening presence of His body and blood at His Holy Supper together with the saints of our congregation of His holy Church.

Even when the day of assembling together at the Divine Service returns, let us also remain ever hopeful for the perfect and complete gospel of our final retreat from this great tribulation at the Day of Resurrection.  At that time we will take up our eternal post before the unveiled presence of God on His throne.  We will serve Him day and night in His temple, and He who sits on the throne will shelter us with His presence.  Surely at that time we will have moved from the good, to the better, to the very best.  Amen, come, Lord Jesus!
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