March 20, 2020

Note & apology. An earlier version had an entire paragraph in there which was a duplicate of a facebook post by John Moses. I put it there, so I could quote a portion, but forgot to remove it and so it looks like mine, not his. I have since removed that paragraph and credited him at the appropriate place in this re-post.

Yesterday I shared with you a picture of my youngest grandson happily eating dirt in his backyard. Well, I have 2, three-year-old grandsons and yesterday my youngest son, who is working at home because the children are at home texted me this photo saying that apparently his 3-year-old is not worried about a toilet paper shortage.

And then this appeared in a facebook post.

This is the lighter side of the toilet paper frenzy. On comment I read suggested that if you need 140 rolls of toilet paper for 40 days, then you should have seen a doctor long before this.

It is good to see the humour appearing, because that will make this social isolation experience a lot easier to live with. Unfortunately, we have also seen the ugly side. Someone videotaped a women in B.C. who parked her SUV full of toilet paper in a Costco parking lot and was trying to sell it from the back of her vehicle. Greed. The uglier side of a crisis which leaves some vulnerble.

Do you remember the late Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker. These televangelists were popular a few decades ago. Well Jim Bakker was just issued a warning by the FDA and FCC to stop selling fake coronavirus cures. You can read about it on Christian Headlines. And that has been a problem for Christians, hasn’t it? People tagging themselves as Christian and then acting in a way that has nothing to do with the compassion of Christ.

Well, my friend, the Rev. Dr. John Moses at Aylesford United Church in Nova Scotia wrote the following on his facebook page: “Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity” is one of the more interesting books I have read over the years. He investigates the sociological reasons for the growth of the Christian movement throughout the Roman Empire. One of the things he says is that, during times of plague, the Christians looked after their sick rather than leaving them to die alone as was the common custom. This not only resulted in a higher recovery rate than among the general population, it also impressed the pagans. In time, as the movement grew in numbers, the same care was extended to non-Christians. Obviously, we are in a different situation in 2020. Our risking physical contagion would not help anyone and such contact would put others at risk. However, the need to care is as urgent in this century as it was in the early centuries of the Common Era.

I tried to buy the book on kindle, so I could read it before posting (or some of it anyway), but it is old enough that it is only available in hard copy. So I will order it to read. But the point John is making which is salient to our situation is that as Christians, if we are practicing the way of living Jesus taught, then compassion will be our response. Responsible compassion, that is, helping others where we can but not risking our health foolishly.

It is true, that sometimes compassion requires risk, and risk requires us to understand and minimize the harm to ourselves in others even as we reach out. What we cannot do is “nothing”. We all have neighbours, friends, acquaintances who may need something we can provide – even if it is only a phone call saying “I am thinking of you.”

As Christians, it is our way to help and to be sensible about the instructions we are giving during this emergency; to be creative and caring. As Christians we understand the meaning of community; we understand that we suffer together and we heal together. We share in one another’s joys and sorrows, and we do not discriminate counting some more worthy than others.

My prayer for today is that we would all find in this time, a renewed sense of purpose, a renewed and strengthened relationship with God and one another, joy in the small things, faith in the big things, and the will and desire to live with compassion.

Read Paul’s writing about being one body here: 1 Corinthians 12:12-17.

And finally (because I like a little humour):

Peace and Love to all of you this day.

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