Mercy, Healing, Restoration. God not only delivered Israel from Egypt, He used the miracles of the Exodus to make Himself known to the Egyptians as well. And though the Egyptians suffered for a time, they turned to God with pleas for mercy and He healed them. God has granted us relief from the pandemic, although we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters here and around the world who continue to suffer and to mourn.
Even as we give thanks for physical healing and relief, the gospel for today reminds us that physical healing is not the true restoration the world longs for. When the people of Capernaum tried to keep Jesus with them, He didn’t say he needed to go heal other towns of their diseases. He needed to preach the good news to the other towns, for that was His true purpose. The world is willing to settle for a cure for cancer, or a vaccine for coronavirus. But God doesn’t set His sights so low. He has destroyed the power of death, and granted us forgiveness and eternal life, by Christ’s death and resurrection!
He has entrusted that message to us, to his bride the Church, that we might bring the light of the gospel to all the ends of the earth. Our suffering on earth lasts only a little while, but our rejoicing in heaven lasts forever. Let us plead with God for His mercy, for His strength, that we might be united in Christ and serve Him alone in this world. The world is dying for forgiveness. Let us humble ourselves and ask God how He would have us serve Him in His true purpose – to preach the good news of forgiveness and eternal life to all the other towns in this world.
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 19, verses 20b-22:
When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.
The Epistle lesson is from 1 Peter, chapter 5, verses 6-11:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Gospel for the Day of Thanksgiving for the End of the Pandemic is from Luke, chapter 4, verses 38-43:
And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”