March 15, 2020

Faith Means Action
Signs of Life: Why Church Matters – Food
Third Sunday in Lent, Year A
Becky Robbins-Penniman

I think the English language is amazing! In the past week, we’ve developed new vocabulary words and phrases that so aptly describe the remarkable reality of a pandemic, something 99% of us weren’t thinking about just a month ago. Phrases most of us outside the discipline of epidemiology hadn’t heard of before March 1st are now common vocabulary. Two examples: “Social distancing” and “flatten the curve.” Marvelous terms! They are pithy, descriptive and actionable. Both put words to why many of our people are staying home today. “Social distancing” is a simple way of saying “I can’t catch a germ I haven’t been near.” It boils a whole paragraph on good self-care down to 2 words. “Flatten the curve” describes the impact of social distancing on an entire population: We’ll have lots of sick people very quickly, overwhelming the health care system UNLESS we practice social distancing and good hygiene.

If we do practice the recommended interventions, we won’t make each other sick, or at least not as quickly, and our health care system will be able to care for those who do fall ill. “Flatten the curve” boils a whole statistical concept and a practical way to love our neighbor down to three understandable words. Also marvelous is how words that are thousands of years old also have something to say to us at this particular time.

Isaiah tells us that people of faith MUST take care of other people. James tells us that people of faith MUST take care of other people. Faith may begin in our heads and hearts, but until it reaches our hands and feet and hits the street, it’s just us doing whatever WE feel like doing. For ALL of us, faith in action means washing our hands and doing whatever else we can to stop the spread of germs that may not affect us, but might destroy someone else. Now, again, sometimes, like during a pandemic, for those at high risk, hitting the street actually means staying home even if you don’t WANT to. NOT getting sick is the best way to help everyone…

To read the full sermon text, click HERE.

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