|Image by Katarina Stefanovic|
Special devotions in response to COVID-19
Every day I call on you, O God;
I spread out my hands to you.
Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean. Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do choose. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. "Go," he said, "and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them." But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.
At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
I say to myself, go on seeking, be glad for being sensitive, be glad you're able to go beyond the resistance inside you. It is our resistance to what we experience that makes creativity possible. So don't get rid of resistance like that by going around it or trying to eliminate it. Our own limitations put up strong resistance, but it's because of that that we are creators.
- from Brother Roger of Taizé: Essential Writings by Brother Roger Schutz
Verse for the Day
Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.
|A waymark for the Via Francigena pilgrim trail, in France|
The Greek word ‘dierchomai’, found in today’s reading, is translated as ‘to spread’ and has the meaning of ‘to go through or pass through’ but with an energy of speed and force. In the story of Jesus’ healing of a man living with leprosy, it is used to describe how the miracle became well-known to others. But in our own time, the word ‘spread’ also holds the meaning of something which travels quickly in a way that is not healing. The COVID-19 virus has spread throughout the world with alarming speed. A meeting of an evangelical Christian community in Mulhouse, France for five days at the end of February, is believed to be responsible for more than half of the known cases of COVID19 in that country. Someone among the twenty five hundred people gathered that week had recently returned from Hubei province in China. Since no specific health advice existed at the time, and even though people had begun to be sick while the meeting was underway, the gathering continued welcoming new attendees each day. It can be challenging to believe that just a few individuals can have such a dramatic impact on the health and wellbeing of an entire nation. We have since understood that the Coronavirus can have 'community' transmission, moving between people quickly who have not themselves been in affected areas. In the time of Jesus, leprosy was such a disease. It stigmatized those it afflicted, forever. How can we reconcile the 'spread' of illness with the 'spreading' good news of Jesus in our own time? Two weeks ago, in another part of France, the Christian community of Taize closed its doors, to better protect the small ecumenical monastic community of brothers who live there, and the rotating groups of youth who regularly retreat with the community. In the video below, made on March 17th, the brothers explain the closure before inviting us virtually into their private gathering of worship. ‘To go, to walk, to journey through to different places’ are other meanings that 'dierchomai' holds in Scripture. The evangelical church in Mulhouse and the Taize community are less than three hundred kilometres apart in central and eastern France, and both are within easy reach of the ancient pilgrim route known as the Via Francigena. Once a Roman road, in the Middle Ages it served as a way of connecting the church at Canterbury, England, with Rome. In this way, the ‘distance journey’ of a pilgrim is connected to how we ‘pass through’ a time of confusion and illness. We are all walking together in God's loving desire for us all to be healed. “Let us keep watch over the treasure of human relationship,” we hear in the video below. And in today’s story, Jesus says to the man, “I do choose” to help. What are the ways that we ourselves can choose to help others within this crisis, so that the spread of disease can be met by ever multiplying acts of loving kindness?
A COVID-19 WORSHIP FROM TAIZE
Note: Video begins with a message from the leaders of the community
in both French and English.
LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,
supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
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