Pastoral letter concerning COVID-19

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16 NRSV)

This week, while following Jesus’ path to the cross, I want to talk a little bit about Judas’ betrayal and how he sold Jesus to the authorities. Unfortunately we cannot meet in person to talk about this. Even more unfortunately, we cannot meet because something far more urgent has come up — something that is a matter of life and death. Allow me to share here instead.

I don’t know what Judas’ motivations were. I don’t know if he saw what was coming, and decided that he would make some coin while distancing himself from the Man that could lead His followers to their deaths. I don’t know if it was pure greed, and he was motivated by money. I don’t know if he had the same concerns as the chief priests and Pharisees who made a joint committee to see to Jesus’ death. I honestly don’t know if he was motivated by greed, fear, or a belief that he was doing the right thing for his people.

What I do know is that these days there has been much discussion of the value of a life. Everybody knows we are facing an epidemic right now. While the CDC has recommended a course of action, we also know that a number of people feel differently. Many are concerned that the choices made by our government have too great of an economic cost, and these individuals would rather face the risk of illness and death.

When I think of this hard choice, I believe that life is sacred, and money is not. I believe it is right to accept inconvenience so that others may live. Those who wish to keep making money and count the dead are planning on other people dying because they are not personally in one of the higher risk groups. I understand when people accept a risk. I do not understand when they assign a risk to somebody else without consent. I want to do everything I can to make sure we all make it through this. I know it will require sacrifice, but I believe that the path Jesus teaches us to walk is one of looking out for each other.

I have never known how to be part of a community that cannot meet and eat together. I am not a public health professional, and I know that if I second guess the CDC, I undermine their work to keep us safe. I have my opinions and fortunately my opinions match their goal. I want to do the best we can do. We are a Christian community. How do we live in community while distancing ourselves? How do we stay physically apart and remain in a caring community?

I don’t know how long these sacrifices will remain necessary, but I expect that they will be uncomfortably long. I expect people may need to risk their health to buy food. I also know that we need reassurance that we are not alone. We need to remain a community, but how? For a start, here are my recommendations:

  • Comply with health department recommendations for the health and safety of everybody.
  • If you are in a high risk group, or care for someone in a high risk group; let somebody else shop for you.
  • If you are sick, let somebody else shop for you.
  • If you are healthy, and able to shop, volunteer to shop for others
  • Be deliberate about calling or texting each other. We may be physically distant, but we cannot let each other become isolated.

We all need to look out for each other. You are always in my prayers.

Your Pastor

Michael Jay

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Pastor at Raysville Friends Church

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