Both Georgia and the nation reached grim pandemic milestones over the weekend. Georgia passed the 5,000 death mark from Covid-19 (5,156 as of 3 p.m. today) and the nation marked 175,000 deaths (now 176,802). Medical experts say the actual toll may be far greater. And with schools opening across the state and nation we can expect to see the numbers rise. Georgia has had 256,253 confirmed cases since March; the country has had 5.7 million. And those are just confirmed cases.
The amount of grief and suffering caused by this virus is incalculable. And yet we hear very little about it. As a nation we seem to have become numb to the deaths, or so accustomed to them that they are unremarkable. There has been no national day of mourning, no remorse or comfort from our national or state leaders. “It is what it is,” we’re told.
But here’s the thing. It does not have to be what it is. We don’t have to reach the 300,000 death mark by December 1, as I’ve heard predicted. There is not going to be a miracle, the virus is not going to disappear. Quack cures promoted by some are not going to do the trick.
There is a way to save lives and get the virus under control until a vaccine is developed. It is a seemingly easy way, but one that too many people have been reluctant to do. Wear a mask. Stay away from crowds.
It’s that simple. But also that difficult.
Our faith has something to say about this. Throughout scripture what is emphasized is the common good. Love your neighbors. Pray for your enemies. Take care of those on the margins. We hear very little about individual rights or freedoms (unless an individual is being harmed). What we do hear about time and again is our obligation to care for one another.
Wearing a mask is an act of faith, a sacramental act. It says you care about someone other than yourself. It says you care about people you don’t even know. Staying away from crowds (even church) says the same thing. It’s not hard to do. It’s not an infringement of our rights. It’s a responsibility we all share.
About three months ago we had a blessing of the masks as part of a Sunday liturgy. Here’s the prayer we used:
Gracious God, you teach us that when we love and care for one another we are serving you. In this time of pandemic, bless these masks that they may be a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of our love for you and your people. Bless those who wear them, and keep us all in your loving care. Amen.
The service for compline for this week is attached. See you at 8 p.m.