This past week was Holy Week. Normally, my wife and I would attend Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter church services. Holy Week starts with children waving palm branches to re-enact Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before Passover. On Thursday night, the mood shifts to the somber Last Supper when Jesus explains the meaning of his death during his last Passover meal. He washes his disciples’ feet to demonstrate servant leadership. The church altar is then stripped of all objects and we exist in silence. On Good Friday, the mood remains bleak, and we mourn Jesus’ death on the cross. Then, the sun rises on Easter morning and we gather as a church community and shout in unison: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
But this year, my wife and I huddled around our home computer screen and attended church services virtually via Zoom. Square boxes of church professionals and members covered our computer screen. We are under ‘stay-at-home’ orders and through technology, we connect as a community. We even worshipped virtually with our Victoria BC church during Easter morning. The music, liturgy and preaching were varied but contained the same uplifting message of Easter joy. Even isolated in our homes, we were full of hope during this period of worldwide suffering. Christ’s resurrection message is just what our world needs now. We see so many signs of life in this time of fear. The tomb is empty. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5)
On Saturday morning, I read an article in the London Financial Times (FT) titled The Burden of the Coronavirus Pandemic Must Be Shared Fairly: Our Religious Traditions Tell Us to Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves (The Editorial Board, April 10, 2020). “At a time when all humanity is threatened by a tiny agent of death, all seek deliverance from the oppression of the virus and the fear of the end. Whether we are believers or not, nothing could remind us more powerfully than the pandemic of humanity’s eternal search for meaning in the realities of life and death. … A pandemic brings forth, as no other event can do, the hopes and fears we all share. In the face of death, we are brothers and sisters.”
The editorial discusses the inequalities of the pandemic. “Rich people find it far easier to stay at home in comfort and security than poorer ones. But young people are far more resistant to the disease than are older people.” I am now classified as older people. Last week, I went to my local grocery store in the early morning hours reserved for people over 60 and health care workers and was able to shop without lines. I am retired with enough income to live comfortably and this editorial personally shook me. I stay home while others, particularly health care workers and first responders, shoulder more pandemic risks than me. There are inequalities during this pandemic.
“Thus, even though the disease is a shared concern, it raises deep questions about how burdens are to be borne and sacrifices are to be shared. … Those with the means to do so must help everybody else cope with the virus and with the costs of coping with it, not only today, but in future.” How can we help? We continue to pay for services that have been eliminated due to social distancing. We offer to financially help those who are out-of-work. We purchase services that can be delivered or picked up to keep their businesses going until normalcy resumes. We practice servant leadership and Christian selfless giving. If we can’t leave our homes, we open our wallets.
Our country has the world’s best health care system, but the pandemic reminds us that not all Americans have basic health care. We must unite to find a way for fill this health care gap. If all Americans having basic health care causes those like myself to pay higher taxes, then so be it. Loving our neighbor starts with stopping and bandaging his or her wounds. As a community of hope, we must find a way to unite on this most basic human need. “How we act now will shape humanity’s future. Death is all around us. Let us seek a resurrection into better lives for all.” Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Now let us go forth and live risen lives.