April 13, 2020
What Matters (and What Doesn't)

by Dr. Oliver Wagner, Senior Pastor

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
Matthew 27:54
The virus has certainly caused both disruption and devastation. Behind every statistic is a person. The curve itself is composed of human beings who are grandparents, co-workers, friends and loved ones. Yesterday we celebrated Easter isolated from one another - linked only by the Spirit of faith and the wonders of technology. Like the cross-event itself, this devastating time is sure to leave the world in a post-traumatic state. What new day will emerge? What will it all change, if anything?

The virus has forced us to slow down, even stop. In this time we reflect and pay attention to matters that often get ignored. Perhaps in “normal times” we paid too much attention to celebrity, personal achievement, product consumption and the attainment of wealth. Instead, we now consider the gospel matters of life and death, love and meaning, relationships and forgiveness.

A rabbi once said, “All the world is a narrow bridge and the most important thing is not to be afraid.” As we walk this fragile, perilous, mortal path, we walk not alone. We are accompanied by a community that surrounds us and a God who is ever-present with us. Still, it is a path surrounded by death’s shadow. Many have gone before and will come after us.

We don’t know when our society will move from isolation and emergency management to a more normal routine. The question on my heart this Easter Monday is this: when the isolation is over, when the worst of this crisis is past, when we live to see beyond this death, what will be next? How will we have changed or matured, if at all? What did those first disciples learn after all they had been through and seen when Jesus showed himself to them alive and present?

I pray that we’ll all be stronger of spirit, more gracious and merciful toward others, less harsh in our judgments and more committed to living less for “me” and more for “we.” What about you? Maybe we’ll learn to put value and meaning on those things that give and preserve, protect and develop life rather than destroy and harm. Maybe we’ll learn to put God first in our lives.
God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power. Crown thine ancient church’s story, bring its bud to glorious flower… lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour… and the living of our days. Amen
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com