Thoughts From My Covid Wilderness 2.0
Did you know that when the Israelites wandered the wilderness in Exodus, they had all sorts of backward steps along the way? Mostly their own fault, of course. Remember the snake incident, remember the manna incident, remember the golden calf? It seems any good wilderness journey would not be complete without regress. Jesus’ wilderness journey did not, but then, he is God. He was also out there on his own, so when Satan showed up, he was only influenced by his divine nature. In the case of the Israelites, I cannot help but wonder, if people wander as a group, is regression inevitable? The Israelites quarreled, complained, rebelled, and kept themselves in that wilderness far longer, it seems, than was necessary.
Did you know God gave the Israelites a name, ‘Kasha Oreph”, stiff-necked people? “Kasha” meaning stubborn, obstinate, or uncompromising. “Oreph” meaning neck. A stiff-necked person is likened to an animal who refuses to turn their head to go in the direction the master wants. Oooph!
I say this because the news coming out of the CDC and our own NC Department of Health and Human Services this past week has been disappointing to say the least. With reports of the rising cases of COVID among the unvaccinated, the emerging Delta and Lambda strains of the virus, and the breakthrough cases (though still rare) of COVID in fully vaccinated people, it seems we may have taken a step backward into the wilderness. Now, if you are like me, this is colossally, unbelievably, radically disheartening! I do not want to go back to wearing masks. I want to sing in church, and I want to go back into the sanctuary for worship. I want to be stiff necked about it all…but then I think of the people in our congregation who have loved ones they are trying to protect. I know their fear; we have talked about it. There are folks among us who have not been vaccinated, and I want them to be safe because I love them. I love the people in this church so, with all the confusing, contradictory information floating around in the media and on the internet, I am going to make a choice for the folks I love. I am going to put my mask back on in worship unless I am speaking at the podium. Not because I want to or because it is mandated. I will do it to make others feel safer. I am not going to sing out loud and I will celebrate going back into the sanctuary when the time is right.
I ask you to join me in this for the next few weeks, wear a mask, get your temperature taken, sing in your head (you may sound like an opera singer, who knows? I am going to express my inner Idina Menzel) and be patient about our return to the sanctuary as we see what happens, and until the Session can meet to discuss and plan. Until then, I invite us to look at this through the lens of this scripture from Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”