|Has there ever been a time like this?|
Our well-being is so exquisitely and critically communal. It always has been.
Now, we daily are made aware of the life and death ways our behavior impacts others.
An unrestrained cough can kill. Sharing communal song is dangerous. Aerosols travel.
The simple act of protecting others from harm has become politicized.
Somehow the COVID virus and our response to it has become a litmus test for our faith in God and our political affiliation.
Cooper and I were hiking at Itasca State Park. We went down a path to be by Lake Itasca in order to dip our feet in the lake and savor the beauty of a perfect summer day.
The area where we were sitting was visible from the path above. The area where we were sitting was small.
A man and his party came down the path, clearly wanting to access the water. We shared concern that there was not a six foot margin in that small space. We asked for space and the time to put on our masks. None in his party were wearing masks. There was no safe place for us to go. We were trapped.
Rather than wait and rather than see the sense of our request that they either not access the space or wait for us to safely vacate it, the man snarled at us, and the child with him – maybe six? – chastised us for being so afraid.
And I wondered: When did following scientific guidelines become a sign of fear?
When did a simple request become a gauntlet thrown?
The irony of being two pastors branded as contemptibly fearful (by a six year old!) was not lost on me. Somewhere along the way the young girl learned that to practice safety measures in order to contain COVID is to lack faith in God.
Who are we?
I share the interchange above not to stir up yet more anger or side-claiming.
I share the interchange above because I am, in fact, fearful.
I am afraid.
I fear that somewhere in the past months and years we have lost our call to practice exquisite care for one another.
Scripture says not one word about our God-given right to endanger others.
Scripture teaches us that our care for the most vulnerable bespeaks our commitment to our God.
We witness to our faith by the ways we are fierce in the way of loving our neighbors as ourselves.
This pandemic is not a short-lived test of our character; It is exhausting heartbreaking messy character-refining challenge.
The ways we live faithfully in and through this time of pandemic is writing our future.
What does the Lord require of you?
Over and over in Scripture we hear that the Lord requires kindness, mercy, justice and humility.
We don’t have the answers to so much.
But we do know that the ways we comport ourselves – the posts we share on Facebook, the emails we forward and the conversations we have in front of and with our children – bears witness to our faith.
I am longing for the agony of the 160,000 lives lost and countless lives upended to lead us to deeper reverence for the power of our Holy God and the beauty of connected human being.
Humility. Mercy. Kindness. Justice.
The prophet Micah and Jesus and all of creation is calling to our hearts.
We are called to live our faith in a time like this.