Living in the World of COVID – 19

hand sanitizer

This is the week, on which we will all look back, when everything changed.  Every click on a newsfeed seems to bring with it another report of another change to our daily lives: 

 We’ve kissed handshakes goodbye.

The Stock Market keeps going down. My retirement is in jeopardy!  I guess I’ll work several more years!

Stores temporarily closing (Apple, Nike, Under Armour etc). 

Some restaurants, bars, movie theatres in certain states,  closed.

Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and others moving to “Drive-thru” only.

Even Golden Corral is moving to a “To Go” service only.   Can we go back for seconds and thirds?

Major Sports events cancelled. I just heard that MLB opening day is postponed indefinitely. 

Amusement Parks (Disney Parks, Universal Studios,  Silver Dollar City, etc) temporarily closing or moving back their opening date. 

Welcome to the world of COVID-19.  

Devin Wright,  my son and pastor of Mission Gathering in Issaquah, Washington, commented that March Madness may have been cancelled, but March Madness is still here, just without the basketball.  

Unfortunately, preachers and politicians are contributing to the madness.  

In all times, especially in changing times, we need leaders who can be trusted.  We need leaders who know the facts, who can interpret the facts, and lead us into a better future.  

When we, as leaders, fail to interpret the situation accurately, we lose our credibility.  

By late winter 1933, the nation had already suffered more than three years of economic depression.  More than 11,000 of 24,000 banks had failed. Millions of people were out of work and millions more were working at jobs that barely provided enough to live on.  On March 4, 1933, newly elected President, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his first inaugural address, in which he gave us this memorable line,  “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  

But, before he said that, he said this: 

“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel.  This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in your country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”  

Drum roll. Get ready for it, here it come – the line we remember:  “First of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There it is.  The famous line.  But “no fear”came after “Just the facts, ma’am,” (thanks Sgt Joe Friday)

But, that line sounds different when heard with the lines that  go before.  

Part 1: “Speak the truth, frankly and boldly.”  Don’t “shrink from honestly facing conditions in your country today” 

Part 2:  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  

Let’s be brutally honest about the situation we face.  And, let’s never lose faith that things will get better in the end.  

Last Sunday, we canceled our in-person Sunday service at the request of the Greene County Missouri Health Department, and chose instead to live-stream a service with only essential personnel present.

Not every church in our area followed the request of the Health Department.  I don’t understand why. Maybe they had legitimate reasons. Maybe not. I just know why we chose to do what we did. When public safety is at risk, which by every account it seems to be, it’s best to act on behalf of the public even when it costs us personally.  That just seemed like what love would do.  

In the words of Harry Smith, Perhaps think of it this way: that by staying home, you could save a life. And you know, that feels pretty good.”

Listen to our scientists – even more than to our preachers and politicians.                 Be loving in all we do. 
Fear can lead to discrimination and selfish decisions.  Replace our fear with faith, hope, and love, working to create a better world for all.  

 

“Fear Will Be Your Ememy”

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We tend to do that. To hate what we don’t understand.

It starts with fear.

We fear what we don’t understand. So…

We criticize it.

Or we dismiss it.

Sometimes, we smash it.

We see it in history:

After the last Amtrak accident, people may be a bit skittish about riding a train, but it’s nothing compared to how people felt in the 1820s with the invention of the steam locomotive. Anti-train propaganda warned that the human body would disintegrate under the stress of traveling at the unfathomable speed of 20mph. It was feared that men would asphyxiate, and women would suffer a more violent death due to their more fragile assembly.   Stay away!

We see it literature:

In Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Jem, Scout, and Dill don’t know Arthur Radley (Boo). They only know what people say about him. They believe what they hear and in their minds, they make it reality.  A scary reality.

“Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him.” Page 10

“People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows.” Page 10

“Boo was about six-and-a –half feet tall, judging from his tracks, he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were blood stained.” Page 16

By the end of the story, Boo is no longer a man to fear, but a man who is a friend.

We see it in TV:

Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” aired “The Gift” April 27, 1962. In the story, a space alien, who calls himself Williams, crash lands his rocket in Mexico. He has come to earth to give humanity the formula for a cancer-curing vaccine. He should be getting the red carpet! Right?

But before presenting his gift, he’s killed by some local soldiers. Led by fear and hate, they not only kill the visitor but also burn the document that contains the cancer curing formula.

The closing line from the episode: “We’ve not just killed a man. We killed a dream.”

Rod Serling, in that bewitching voice, offers this epilogue:

“The subject: fear. The cure: a little more faith.”

What is the cure for our fear of the unknown?

For Rod Serling, the cure is faith.

For Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win the award in two different fields (physics and chemistry), the cure is understanding: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

For Roman historian, Livy, the cure is knowledge: “We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”

From John the Apostle, not the Beatle, the cure is love: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear for fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”

The chief troll had it right when he told Elsa, in the movie “Frozen”, “Fear will be your enemy.” The fear that froze Elsa and everyone around her was thawed by the sacrificial love of her sister, Anna.

Do you think the sacrificial love of Jesus will do the same for our fears and us?