I found this week’s lectionary reading to have something profound to say about our present situation. We all look back on last week, or two weeks ago, and think we have stepped through a looking glass, like Alice in Wonderland. Everything has changed. We were blind but now we see.
We see that what happened in China, what is happening in Italy, could happen to us.
We see that the freedoms we took for granted (that there would be food on the shelves; that we could go to the gym, the movie theater, our friend’s houses; that we would have a job, a social life; and so much more)—were precious gifts.
We see that life has changed for the foreseeable future.
We see that we are going to have to recreate how we work (if we work), how we socialize, how we “do” church.
We see the stark reality of the inequalities of our health care system—with those who are rich or well-connected getting what others cannot.
We see the weakness of not have surplus especially of essentials (including health care masks, respirators, ventilators).
We see so many things. So many of them depressing, enervating, terrifying, enraging.
We have been blind. Now we see. Now what?
We see how much we miss human interaction. Let’s commit to finding ways to connect, by phone, by computer, and let’s not forget those who are most isolated and help reach out to them.
We see how big the rift is between the haves and the have nots—in getting medical care, in being able to participate in on-line learning, in having a paycheck, in having food. Let’s commit to doing what we can to make sure we take care of the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the ones with the most needs among us.
We see (and feel) how helpless we are to make Covid-19 go away. Let’s do what we can, by staying home if at all possible, by advocating for protection for our front line defense (in the medical field and for our police and fire departments), and by remembering that we are not the first humans who have faced such dire circumstances.
Dr. Paul Leggett (a colleague at Grace Church, Montclair) pointed some of us to a prayer/hymn written by Huldrych Zwingli (a Reformed minister) in 1519 when the Black Death (the plague) swept through Zurich, the town where he was the pastor.
Here are Zwingli’s words:
“Help, Lord God, help in this trouble!
I think death is at the door.
Stand before me, Christ, for you have overcome him.
To you, I cry:
If it is your will, take out the dart that wounds me,
Nor lets me have an hour’s rest or repose.
Will you, however, (meaning, If it be your will)
that death take me in the midst of my days,
So let it be.
Do what you will,
Nothing shall be too much for me.
Your vessel am I,
To make or break altogether.
One last thought. It is important to see clearly. Sandy Crouse reminded me of a story she tells. She interviewed a woman who had lived through the Blitzkrieg in London during World War II. And Sandy said to her, “That must have been so frightening. How terrible.” And the woman smiled and said, “Yes, it was horrible. But you know what, with everyone putting up their blackout curtains, and all lights extinguished, when you went out in the streets, all of a sudden you could see the stars. That’s what I remember most, all those stars.”
I invite us to make sure we look for the stars, and that we remember who stands close by us, no matter what. In Jesus’ name, May it be so, Amen and Amen.