"The Beginning of the End!"

 "Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end!" These are the sentiments of many who watched as people in the United Kingdom were being given the first shots to end the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, I was watching the global news broadcast "France 24" through our Roku and delighted to see the first and second persons vaccinated. The first British person to receive the Pfizer-released vaccine was a ninety-year-old grandmother. The second individual to receive it was an eighty-one-year-old man who had the unique name of William Shakespeare (like the famed English playwright!). I laughed when Francois Picard, the news desk reporter said, while holding back his laughter, "We can't make this up! My colleagues in the newsroom are calling this moment, 'The Taming of the Flu!'" (an obvious and playful reference to Shakespeare's Shrew!).

A Vaccine of Hope!
Image Credit: iStock.com

A little levity is appropriate in order to release the pressure valve of stress and loss that has accompanied the last eleven months. At this writing, 304,000 Americans and 1.64 million throughout the world have died because of this virus. 

Millions have been affected through job losses, businesses shuttered, schools closed, and surreal, but essential mitigation efforts of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. The mental and emotional toll has yet to be fully calculated. 

Our everyday lives have been adjusted to accommodate curbside delivery, distance learning, remote working, and even tele-medicine. This has been both a tough patch and a growing experience for each of us! We are awaiting delivery of the vaccine this week to medical distribution centers in our community. But we can see that help is on the way! 

During this Advent season, we are rehearsing the scriptural stories surrounding the birth of Jesus long ago. I love this time on the Christian calendar! While we haven't been able to have in-person worship services for months now, we are enjoying our small group studies online that focus on the themes of the long-anticipated hope of Immanuel, and the fulfillment of all this prophecy in Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord and King! He is the Light who breaks into this dark world of sin, pandemics, suffering and loss to be light and life to us! What great hope!

When I think of hope fulfilled and help that has come, I am reminded of the angel of the Lord who appeared to the shepherds that first Christmas night. With the light of God's glory blazing around them, these humble recipients of Christmas hope stood in terror and amazement while the angel proclaimed, "Do not be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" (Luke 2:10-11, NLT). Just the key phrases make me shout with gladness: good news, great joy, Savior-Messiah-Lord, and today!!

At Christmas, we have just begun to rehearse this story of good news and great hope! The gospel message can be summarized, "Help is on the way! This is just the beginning!" Soon after the New Year, it will be time for Lent. The full story will be told in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. The hopelessness and helplessness of humanity in sin will give way to the resurrection of the One who forever will be victor over sin, death and the grave! 

Let's consider what the hymn writer so beautifully invites, "Hymns of praise, then, let us sing, Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Who endured the cross and grave, Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!" (Jesus Christ is Risen Today). What a story! What a Savior!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

 



Comments

  1. HOPE! This is considered one of the three cardinal (literally, "hinging" as in the metal that holds up a heavy door) virtues for we as Christians. So deeply embedded is hope that Paul extolled it rightly in fellowship with FAITH and LOVE. Thanks Mike for bearing witness to hope amidst us firmly during these tenuous times. I admire and appreciate your writing here.

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