WIC Weekly March 29th 2020
Warsaw International Church
Mobile +48 601 331 032
Worship every Sunday at ul. Miodowa 21 (near Old Town) at 11:00 AM
Entrance from Schillera Street
The coronavirus continues to spread in Poland, and the government has introduced additional restrictions. Not more than two people should go out together (unless they’re a family); no standing in public transport; only go out to go to the shops, drugstore, or if you have to travel to work, or for other emergencies; maximum attendance at church services is now 5 people. Church services at WIC are suspended. To date (Tuesday lunchtime), Poland has 799 confirmed cases and 9 deaths
Consequently, I now send out the order of service together with readings, hymn words, the sermon, prayers of intercession and notices to our regular worshippers as a PDF file on Saturdays. If you would like to receive this as well, please write to me at: email@example.com
Another hopeful development is that some of our technically minded worshippers are exploring other forms of online worship. We’ll keep you informed of any decisions taken in this respect.
We pray for all our worshippers who may be experiencing difficulties of any nature (probably all of us). Some may have problems with their studies, others with work, still others with health. We are all in this crisis together, and it’s natural that we should be thinking first and foremost about ourselves and our loved ones. But please remember to set time aside for prayer for others in our church, including former worshippers perhaps facing even worse problems back in their home countries right now. We also pray that we and they may be kept safe from this pestilence.
Let us join Christians everywhere in praying for revival all over the world – for the church to be revived from its sluggishness and cold-heartedness. And let us also pray fervently for unbelievers, doubters and members of other faiths to be touched by the Lord, repent of their sins and unbelief, and receive JESUS CHRIST GOD THE SAVIOUR.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Reading: John 9, 1-41
Dear Brothers and Sisters, the man who was born blind was a sufferer. His world was dark – and probably very bleak, because in those days there was no health service. If you were disadvantaged in some way, life was incredibly difficult for you. You were dependent on your family and perhaps some kind-hearted people. A very hard life – and no medicine like we have today.
Jesus’ disciples must have been thinking about these questions: why do people suffer, and why do some suffer more than others? Hindus and Buddhists believe in the idea of karma: if someone is born blind, that means they must have sinned in a previous life. But Jesus puts an end to such speculation. He suggests that God has His own reasons why people suffer – not always connected with sin. He says that, in this case, the man was blind so that God’s power can be displayed. Wow! Think about it! Jesus knows He’s going to restore that man’s sight. It was the very reason the man was born blind! In other words, what happens to us is planned by God before we’re even born!
So Jesus heals this man. The Jewish religious teachers refused to believe it. But the man’s parents confirmed it. So did the man himself, when the Pharisees questioned him a second time. I suppose we would act the same way if something similar happened among us – we’d want to know all the details. “How did this happen? Where and when did it take place? Did the man see straight away, or only after a while? How did he feel?” And so on.
Actually, the man was getting fed up, because he’d already told them his story. And so he responds sarcastically (yes – the Bible can be sarcastic!). “Maybe you want to become His disciples too?”, he says to them. Of course, that just makes the Pharisees angry, and they start insulting the man. They accuse him of being Jesus’ disciple; and they say, proudly, that they are disciples of Moses – the true disciples of God.
Let’s take a break here, and try to relate this incident to our own situation. The first thing to say is that we are starting to suffer too. We may not be blind. But because of this global crisis, we can begin to comprehend the blind man’s hardship and insecurity. So many things that other people took for granted, he didn’t have. And so many things that we used to take for granted, we are starting to lose now; our work, our normal income, our sense of security, maybe even our health. In some cases, we might even be losing our family and friends, who can now no longer be bothered with us anymore, because they’re too busy looking after themselves. In a crisis, you find out who your real friends are. And we can easily panic, and get stressed.
The second thing to say is that we shouldn’t feel that God is punishing us for our sins. I’m sure He’s warning the whole world to wake up and turn back to Him – like the lost son in Jesus’ parable. Turn to God, while there is still time. But why this should happen now, at this particular time, only God knows. God must always have had this plan. As with the healing of the blind man, so God, today, is again displaying His mighty power: He allows us to be brought to our knees by a virus. That’s very humbling, and should remove our pride and confidence in man’s evolutionary progress. Our technology may have progressed. But spiritually we are the same as we were, thousands of years ago.
However, we should remember that the Lord healed that blind man: “I was blind, but now I see”. When God displays His power, people are healed. Before this crisis is over, thousands – maybe millions – could cry out to God to save them. I’ve been preaching so much on revival in my sermons, this past year or so. Now it seems that God might be preparing the ground for it to happen – and on a global scale too.
I therefore believe that, as Christians, we have a tremendous responsibility, and a unique opportunity. So we ourselves must stay calm, and try to adjust to our new reality. The Bible makes it clear that we must be prepared in a catastrophe. Our faith, Bible knowledge and prayers are going to be needed to help other people. And we will have a unique opportunity to direct their minds to the Lord, in any way we can.
Today’s reading also unfortunately shows that, even when amazing things take place – like healings or global disasters – there will always be people who won’t accept that this is the hand of God at work. Many will refuse to turn to God as a result of the present crisis – just as the Pharisees, despite calling themselves disciples of Moses, refused to acknowledge Jesus and His healing power.
In fact, Jesus seems to say that this is exactly what God intended: “the blind will see, and those who see will become blind”. In other words, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, many spiritually blind people will become believers. But also, many people will remain spiritually blind, and therefore will not have their sins forgiven.
All this makes us conclude – as if we didn’t already know – that everything happens by God’s grace. We cannot change God’s sovereign interventions. Let us therefore thank Him for what He sends us, because “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8, 28). Praise God that, if we are sincere Christians, He has called us to do His Will, which He will make clear to us, step by step. Don’t despair; don’t be afraid; but “in everything, give thanks”, and build yourselves up in hope, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
29 March is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Verse for the week: “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8, 6). Psalm: 130. Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 37, 1-14. New Testament reading: Romans 8, 6-11.
Food of the Spirit
Testimony of Iulian Urban, aged 38, a Doctor from Lombardy, Italy
Never in the darkest nightmares have I imagined that I could see and experience what has been going on here in our hospital for three weeks. The nightmare flows, the river gets bigger and bigger. At first, some came; then dozens, then hundreds, and now we are no longer doctors but we have become sorters on the tape and we decide who should live and who should be sent home to die, even if all these people have paid Italian taxes all their life. Until two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were atheists; it was normal, because we are doctors and we learned that science excludes the presence of God. I always laughed at my parents going to church.
Nine days ago, a 75-year-old pastor came to us. He was a kind man, had serious breathing problems but had a Bible with him, and he made an impression on us because he was reading it to the dying and held them by the hand. We were all tired, discouraged, mentally and physically finished doctors when we had the time to listen to him. Now we have to admit: we as humans have reached our limits, we can’t do more, and yet more people die every day. And we too are exhausted; we have two colleagues who have died, and others who have been infected. We realized that man cannot do more, that we need God, and we have started asking for help from Him when we have a few free minutes. We talk to each other and cannot believe that, being strong atheists, we are now every day in search of our peace, asking the Lord to help us withstand so that we can take care of the sick. Yesterday the 75-year-old pastor died. Despite us having had over 120 deaths in 3 weeks here, and we being all exhausted and destroyed, he had nevertheless managed, despite his condition and our difficulties, to bring us a PEACE that we no longer hoped to find. The shepherd went to the Lord; and soon we will follow him too, if it continues like this.
I haven’t been home for 6 days, I don’t know when I last ate, and I realize my worthlessness on this earth. But I want to take my last breath to help others. I am happy to have returned to God while I am surrounded by the suffering and death of my fellow men. Testimony collected by Gianni Giardelli
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