Those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit, to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5/6
Just when we were beginning to move forward with a phased reopening, COVID-19 flares up like a wildfire among us reminding us that we are not yet in the clear. These are times that will test us to see if we are obedient to the word of God given to us in scripture and by those with the knowledge and wisdom to give us guidance as we navigate a way forward. This pandemic will be with us for a while and the more caution we take, the better we will be prepared to respond to new cases among us. If there was ever a time when humanity needs guidance, it is now. The vast majority of us do not know our way through the wilderness of COVID-19.
Like children dependent on their parents, so are we dependent on the information provided by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and other governmental agencies that have the expertise to guide us through this pandemic. We need leaders who will tell us the truth. Romans 8 rightly tells us, “Those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit.” Jesus promised his followers of every age that the spirit will lead them and us into all truth.
My good listeners and readers, in Psalm 119, the Psalmist tells us that God’s word is a lantern to our feet, and a light upon our path. So, we are not left without guidance in the world. There is profound wisdom in the ancient text that is applicable to our times. If we listen to the word of truth, we will be safe during this pandemic as the wisdom of the scientists give us guidance to keep us safe. One way we can know if what we are being told is truth, is to recall the words from Scripture that tells us, if what was predicted comes to pass, then we know we were told the truth.
Jesus exemplified the fruitfulness of the word of God in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, the parable of the Seed (word). He used a common illustration of sowing seed to teach a heavenly truth about the effectiveness of the word of God in the lives of the hearer. This parable is quite applicable to hearers today.
You see, we will hear many versions about the eradication of the pandemic among us including whether it exists or not. Depending on who is speaking, many of us may be led astray and not take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves, our families, fellow worshippers, coworkers, and community. The information shared by the appropriately informed agencies is like seed scattered upon the ground. Where will it fall within our hearing? The actions we will take depends on our level of understanding of its effect on our health and our lives.
Jesus went to great lengths to explain to us the meaning of the parable of the sower. We understand without hesitation the sowing of the seed. Now, it is for us to understand the implications of the parable for our lives. Only then can we intentionally desire the fulfillment of this parable in our lives. The parable indicates that only one of the four stages of sowing was successful. The interpretation speaks powerfully as to what can happen in our lives and the lives of those in our community who not only believe the word but also act on the word.
The word of God is like seed cast upon the ground. If we allow the word to germinate in our lives, then we will bring forth the harvest for which God sent the word. Isaiah 55 tells us, “As rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the things for which it was sent.
My friends, the hope of all the earth, invites us to become doers of the word and not hearers only. Let the word be evident by the fruits we will bear. It is by our actions that others will come to see there is a way that leads to healing and health and wholeness. May the word of Christ dwell richly within us all, as we share that word with others through our action. Then all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Amen
— The Right Rev. Edward Ambrose Gumbs is the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, which encompasses the Episcopal churches on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John and the Anglican churches in Tortola and Virgin Gorda.