How are we going to respond to the Covid-19 virus? It seems to me we can respond out of fear, indifference, or love. What do I mean by this?

It’s easy for our focus to be on our own health, and the fear of getting sick. Fear has the ability of immobilizing us. What can we do to help our fear? We can make sure we are well informed. It’s important to know if we are in a high-risk group, and steps we can take to minimize our risk. What are some of these high-risk groups? This includes older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. Some of the precautions we can take include washing our hands often; not touching our face (which I’m struggling with); avoid large crowds; not shaking hands; and frequently disinfecting highly touched surfaces.

Those who are indifferent say it really doesn’t matter what we do, so let’s not change any of our habits. Last Sunday at church I heard several people say, “I don’t care what anyone says, I’m going to shake hands.” It’s easiest to be indifferent when we are not in a high-risk group, or we don’t believe we will get sick.

What does it look like to respond to the virus out of love?  This is looking at other people, and saying we want to do everything we can to keep them safe. Are we willing to do an elbow bump or a bow instead of a handshake if it might keep another person safe? How much are we willing to do if it helps others?

As the church, is it best to respond out of fear, indifference, or love? As Christians, it’s easy to settle on love being the answer. If we agree, what might this look like once it’s put in action? Some churches in high-risk zones have decided not to meet in person until the risk lessons. They are using technology to broadcast their services, with a small group of people providing leadership for the service. Other churches are analyzing their practices and making changes to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. For churches, is this a very complicated issue? How many ways can germs spread when we gather?

It’s easy to see how shaking hands can spread germs. At first it feels strange not to shake hands. With practice, we will get used to it. Then we get into issues like sharing Holy Communion. Maybe the best way is to use individual cups for juice and have servers wear plastic gloves. Many people like pulling their own piece of bread off the loaf. Are we willing to change if it could help keep people healthy? What about passing the offering plate? Or registration pads? Should we be thinking about how we give to the church, and how we register our attendance? I hesitate to even mention food at our fellowship times and potlucks!

I’m wondering how long Covid-19 might last. Anyone else notice we are getting close to conference season? This includes General Conference, Annual Conference, and Jurisdictional Conference. If necessary, are we willing to make major changes? How far are we willing to go to keep people safe if Covid-19 lasts for an extended period of time?

Your brother on the journey, Mark

Further thoughts: It’s interesting how Covid-19 gives a new perspective to hot-button political issues like health care for all, and paid sick-leave. How might an epidemic worsen if people can’t afford to go to the doctor, or to stay home from work when they are sick? There is nothing like an epidemic to remind us how closely our lives are connected to the lives of the people around us! We don’t even know the names of many of these people.

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