I want to speak to our faith leaders today:The question from Genesis 4 resonates with our community today.
Am I my brother (sister) “neighbor’s” keeper?
It looms large as we face now “pandemic” of Covid 19, for the way we respond is truly a test of what it is that we say that we believe. In this moment of uncertainty, I encourage us all to live without fear, but with wisdom. We need to maintain competing values expressed in Lev. 19:18b and find a balance between them: “Love your neighbor as yourself”
“Love our neighbors”: How do we care for those who are suffering; those who are most at risk, those who are impoverished and hit hardest, those who are on the streets without homes, those who are incarcerated? How do we not let our Love lapse from fear at this time?
“As ourselves”: We have to ensure that we begin our care with ourselves. Like the advice from the flight attendants “first put on your mask, then attend to the masks of others.” How do we ensure that we are taking care of ourselves so that we do not further imperil others.
In this time, I want to encourage us to live our the values of our various faith traditions, to seek to be of service to Others, to continue to do the good that all of our Scriptures call us to do; while at the same time working to protect ourselves lest we put others at risk.
During this time, the Governor has offered some guidance for some things we can do. As religious leaders, this guidance might be hard to hear…particularly for those of us who have never had to cancel worship before…but in this instance, we just may need to consider what is best for our people…
According to guidance from the Governor’s Office:
MASS GATHERINGS, COMMUNITY, AND SOCIAL EVENTS
NC DHHS recommends that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services. These events include large gatherings where people are in close contact (less than 6 feet), for example concerts, conferences, sporting events, faith-based events and other large gatherings.
Many of our congregations are populated by those most at risk:
NC DHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.
People at high risk include people:
Over 65 years of age, or
with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or
with weakened immune systems.
Many of our congregations don’t have 100 people, but the people we have are part of those most at risk.In this regard, we must be particularly sensitive to this guidance.
I want to end my comments by repeating, that this is not a time for fear…prudence yes, vigilance yes, but fear…no!We as people of faith believe in a higher power, One who has brought people through much tougher times than these; One who has done marvelous things for people in the past; Noah in the flood, Moses in the wilderness, Daniel at the lion’s den, Jesus in the grave…our Creator specializes in producing victories against impossible odds!
One who is still at work now.
If we act responsibility during this period, those at risk stay home unless travel is necessary, those who are sick self-quarantining, those who know that they have at risk neighbors who live alone helping them out, all of us washing our hands for 20 minutes, disinfecting surfaces, and monitoring how we are feeling…If we all do that, if we people of faith do that, if we faith leaders do that and we believe…I trust that God will bring us through this challenge as well.