By the Rev. Ted Babcock, Priest Associate
Some people have asked me after my sermon at the Easter Vigil Service “What does it mean to put my faith in God to deliver us from the current Covid situation?” Some have wondered “Should I just pray and wait for God to act?” Others have asked “What can I do, the situation is so big and complex?”
First, the notion that we do not need to do a thing, that God will take care of everything, is a mistaken notion that is not based on scripture. God gave us all free will and uncountable gifts so we can choose to follow God in faith using everything given to us to God’s glory. Whether it was Moses and the Israelites who desired freedom, or Jesus’ disciples desiring to serve Jesus by spreading His teachings throughout the world, they all had to act using their God given gifts. God will guide us through this pandemic, if we prayerfully and thoughtfully use our God given gifts to do what God asks each of us.
Following God in faith means focusing on all of God’s people, even those we do not know or maybe even dislike. Remember the Good Samaritan story? A Jew had been attacked and left to die on the road from Jerusalem. Faith Leaders from his own tradition avoided the victim as he lay dying alongside the road. Helping this victim of violence was just not convenient. Instead they felt that this poor man was to be avoided and ignored. It was as if the victim did not exist. To them he was invisible.
It was a Samaritan man, a hated enemy of the Jews, who stopped and cared for this poor dying victim. This unnamed Samaritan took the badly injured man to an inn and told the inn keeper to do whatever was needed to care for the man, and when he returned, he would pay the inn keeper whatever expense he incurred. He did not put boundaries on what he would do for this man. The Good Samaritan did as God calls all of us to do. Help our fellow humans, without any exceptions, with all we have.
Following God in faith means using our gifts to help our brothers and sisters who are struggling, financially, emotionally, or physically. It means giving to others what has been given to us so they too might get through this difficult time. It is about bringing all of our gifts and resources to help others, including funding or working at the food bank; supporting St. Paul’s so it can be present to those in need; and supporting other institutions that are focused on those who are hurting. It is about acknowledging that only by staying together will we get through this pandemic. Focusing solely on self means being powerless, alone, and unsupported.
Following God in faith means caring for others by social distancing. It means wearing a mask when in close proximity to others.It means driving thoughtfully so those who are walking and stepping in the street to social distance from others do not get hit. It means not being focused on yourself and ignoring others. It means behaving as a community and looking out for others. Think about a world where you did not have to look out for yourself because others were already looking out for you.
I saw a man the other day at the grocery store handle 8-10 packages of strawberries then walk away. His self-focused, even unconscious behavior, risked contaminating not only others but himself. I experienced a family that decided they did not need to follow the arrows in the floor, that were placed there to help us all stay safe. He said “they are not for me.” A check out person who risks their life for all of us so we can have access to food and other needs, broke down and told me about the abuse she received over store policies designed to keep us all safe. These self-focused actions are not made with caring for others in mind. They hurt all of us and help no one. Remember, we are all in this together, and if we truly care for others, we be thoughtful, and not focused solely on ourselves. We thank all those who risk their lives so we can buy food, repair our homes, and receive critical medical care. We can and will get through this if we follow God using our resources to the benefit of the community. St. Paul’s stands tall and strong as a community reaching out to support others who are not as lucky as many of us are.