Lenten Brunch Lite 3: March 14, 2020
Special Pandemic Edition
During the Lenten season, we will offer a “lite” version of our Saturday Brunch. Each week, I will set forth one question (or set of questions) related to keeping Lent and ask us to focus our discussion on it.
Today we hear wise counsel from Dr. Martin Luther, who helped deal with an epidemic of Black Death in Wittenberg in 1527. Out of pastoral concern he wrote a pamphlet called “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague.” He covers a lot of things in that pamphlet, but I found the following to be especially reflective of the situation we find ourselves in today with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let’s focus our discussion today on answering the question, “What does a faithful Christian response to the current crisis look like?” I think you will find Luther’s counsel helpful. Perhaps you will have more to add form your particular setting and perspective. Also, there may be insight to be gained from considering that this is occurring in the Lenten season.
Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body?
You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.
If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.
If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely…. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.