April 24, 2020
Grace and peace friends,
This last week I was floored by this photo. I could not believe the image I was seeing and the stories I was hearing as a group of people went out to protest a quarantine in the middle of a pandemic. Driving around government buildings and hospitals, honking, yelling at nurses and medical professionals as they pleaded for them to go home and remain in quarantine. There is as verse in Scripture that I’ve always kind of winced at when I heard pastors preach on it or hit Christian songs use it, because I find its depth and meaning to be so tied to Jesus’ experience on the cross that very few people can truly say it and convey the depth of Jesus’ suffering in that moment
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”
When Jesus says these words on the cross, it is right before the guards divide up his clothes and cast lots, the rulers of Temple sneer at Jesus, soldiers are mocking him; in this moment Jesus asks God to forgive them. It is this verse that comes to my mind when I see these nurses being ridiculed, being called fake nurses, being called actors, and being told that the pandemic in which they are putting their lives on the line for is a hoax—all because they want to get a haircut. Footnote: Jesus had long hair.
As I reflected on this passage and this situation, I realized I should not be surprised. The Bible is a story of different people constantly rebelling against a God trying to save them. In Exodus we see an entire generation pass away in the desert because they did not trust in God. Judges is the story of flawed people being lifted up to lead the different tribes of Israel only to turn away from God when they got what they wanted. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and most of the prophets are people called by God to beg the leaders to turn away from idols and back to Yahweh. Humanity has a way of working against humanity, this is not a new revelation.
It is Christ on the cross where we see forgiveness and grace. It is in the lives of 49 U.S. healthcare workers who have passed away that we see Christ on the cross. As people lose jobs, homes, and loved ones, we are called to stand with those who are persecuted and marginalized by this pandemic. If people feel the need to protest, then protest about the lack of personal protective equipment available to the healthcare workers, protest the low pay of essential workers risking their lives in the grocery stores, protest the bailout of billion dollar corporations while immigrant families are denied financial support, protest the men, women, and children locked in detention centers at our border where social distancing is impossible.
My friends, this is a moment where we are called to stand with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick. Christ calls us to stand with the least among us, let it be so.
Pastor David Hodd