— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —
As we are getting closer to yet another lockdown, with viral infections peaking at rates not seen before, and with yet another morphed variant of the SARS-Cov-2 family starting to spread, there is a lot of sadness and disappointment, and also bickering and backbiting. So what will Christmas be like? And again no fireworks on New Year’s Eve?
To begin with, one of my favourite New Year’s ever was 1981 in Quebec. No fireworks whatsoever. But I admit that ‘Dinner for One’ has taken on a new, weirdly comical aspect – why did we think celebrating somebody’s birthday in the absence of all their friends was funny? It doesn’t feel so funny any more.
So how about Christmas, which for the second time will coincide with a peak in pandemic-related fatalities? Statistically, out of every 50.000 infection cases, about 400 people are expected to die, says Dr. Wieler, head of the RKI. That’s the bad news, supposedly. The good news is that this figure is probably too high – most of the 40- to 50.000 infection cases detected every day at the moment are actually children between the ages of 6 and 14. Who in their overwhelming majority experience the disease as what some of the deniers still claim it is anyway: a cold of sorts. Most of the oldies, including myself, were sensible enough to get vaccinated in time, and even if we get infected, we stand a much better chance than last year around this time.
Which gets me to the other good news: No, the end is not near. Or at least it is not coming from this direction. This is not the pestilence that Luke 21:11 tells us announces the end of times. Just like the plague of 1348 did not ring in doomsday either — many believed it would, back then, but the plague killed indiscriminately, priest and layman, prince and pauper, rendering moot any argumentation that this was a punishment from God. Besides, there was no second coming. Nor was there one in 1918-19, when the Spanish flu killed not the old and the weak and the infirm, as flus are wont to do, but the young and strong and healthy. However, that was what the First World War had been doing for four years already. What was worse, in the public perception, was the fact that science, like the church in the middle ages, appeared utterly incapable of doing anything. So people died, and the second coming didn’t come.
100 years on, and two years into the worst pandemic any of us have ever seen — and yet we are all still here. The excess mortality so far has been 5%. Which means that at least so far, we have done a lot better than in 1348, and in 1919. People stood together, and helped each other a lot more than what we have on the record for the 14th and the 20th centuries. And they went into one lockdown after another, and there were many, many signs of solidarity and of love.
Also, this time around there are scientists who already from today’s viewpoint have worked something very close to miracles, developing effective vaccines within months of the initial outbreak. And they did that because many of them simply shared their data, and their findings. Which is unusual, to say the least. I know what I am talking about. Believe me.
There is the potential for a genuine hero narrative here, with many, many heroines and heroes. Not all of them were Christians, but all of them acted as if they had been hearing God’s word all their lives. So maybe rather than grumble over another missed Christmas market visit we should feel invited, following 2Corinthians 6:2, to draw nearer to God, and to rejoice in what we got, and how lucky we are:
The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.
Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.
We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.