When Covid’s Over
When visiting our daughter and her children last fall, our youngest grandson had developed a new phrase. It was comparable to phrases like: “When I grow up …” or “When I’m older …” or ” When I’m bigger …”
Our little guy was telling me all the things he was going to do “when Covid’s over.” He would say, “Pops, when Covid’s over, I’m coming to see you and Yaya in Texas.” “When Covid’s over we are all going to go to Disney World together.” “When Covid’s over …”
To be fair, my other grandchildren have used the phrase in some sense or another. He was just using it every single time he thought of something for the future. Maybe that is what is really on our mind as we think about all the things we want to do when Covid’s over.
We will return to our favorite restaurants without being afraid. We will go out with our friends …. we will sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers at sporting events … we will go to church and sing … things might seem a bit more normal when Covid’s over.
But I suspect there will be much to rebuild when Covid’ over. We have people who have politicized the virus much to the detriment of the vulnerable and the weak among us. We have lost trust with one another. We have lost our focus on community and made it more about the self … our individual liberties.
When Covid’s over the USA will likely have accounted for as many as 600,000 (maybe more) of it’s citizens who have died to the disease, and it appears it could have been far less had we viewed social distancing, mask wearing, and timely vaccinations as gifts we share with the community. When Covid’s over, we will have much work ahead of us as we seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
The march toward a more just community will only have just begun when Covid’s over. This is our time to discern that following Jesus means caring for our neighbors. It is means that we find neighbors, as Jesus did with Samaritans and Syrophoenicians and gentiles and Jews and saints and sinners.
But you see, Jesus didn’t wait for anything to be over to practice solidarity … to bring healing … to speak forgiveness … or to build community. He lived in a time of oppression. He lived in a time when Romans had ultimate authority over their land, and the people with whom Jesus ate and drank on a daily basis were people who did not enjoy Roman citizenship … they were considered as subjects (maybe even refugees) living on what was now Roman land. Their torture and executions came with little thought or consideration and certainly no loopholes that could protect them.
If Jesus had said that these things couldn’t happen until “foreign domination” or “religious corruption” was over, we might still be waiting.
Please don’t get me wrong. My thinking here isn’t to say that we go out an put ourselves or anyone else in danger as many of our fellow citizens have been carelessly ignoring the deadly virus. My thinking here is that, if we are waiting to practice grace and forgiveness … if we are waiting to build relationships and to build bridges across our expanses of estrangement … if we are waiting for the pandemic to end for us to build community in new and creative (think Covid-safe) ways … then it might never happen.
Friends, we are the body of Christ. As the body of Christ, perhaps we should lead the way in setting the example of how we can create community in ways that are safe and respectful of our most vulnerable neighbors. As the body of Christ, we can call people and visit with them on the phone. We also have many ways to video chat. For those we desperately want to see, we can practice quarantine and mask wearing and social distancing. As more and more are vaccinated, we can be the body of Christ by inviting people into safer spaces while still following CDC guidelines.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait until Covid is over before we act as the body of Christ. Jesus was creative in how he encountered people. There were times when he healed without touching, and he forgave without seeing. With a little creativity, maybe we too can be the body of Christ without having to wait any longer.
Lord, let us not wait until Covid is over to be your people. Amen.