"By what authority are you doing these things," the religious leaders asked Jesus
When the coronavirus arrived, the authority of the medical experts, such as those working at the CDC and at the WHO, came into direct confrontation with the authority of the President of the United States. Who had higher status as an authority?
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" - Jesus
In Matthew 18, Jesus talks about the nature of community. Communities are built on mutual trust and respect. It’s okay to question the leader. Group discussion is encouraged. There is total transparency. Your family, your social club, your workplace, and especially your church, should never become a cult.
“I will go over and see this strange sight..." - Moses
Moses at the burning bush became aware. Awareness is never optional. The pedestrian who is so glued to their iPhone that they step into traffic will one day be hit. God places these wake-up moments into our lives.
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
But then a fool became Pharaoh. The ethical standards that Joseph taught were abandoned. The nation began to betray its allies. Economic systems were put in place that gave wealth to a few elites and impoverished the common citizen. Hebrews became slaves.
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
What have I learned in fifty years? There can be no unity without Justice — that is the free and fair access to housing, jobs, and equal protection under the law. There can be no unity without integration — we need to learn to live and worship with people who are different from us. There can be no unity without awareness.
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
Jacob learns about faith the tough way. He gets into one scrape after another. Some of them are his own fault. God sees him through. But I think God also wants Jacob to learn to how to live compassionately.
When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me?
When Jesus says that all the commandments hang upon loving God and our neighbor, I am reminded that both male and female were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that my closest neighbors are women. The story of Jacob and Leah (Genesis 29:15-28) demonstrates the inhumanity of blindly following the two ancient principles listed above while rejecting Jesus’ call to compassion.
We are now in the midst of summer and a pandemic. The very atmosphere seems to be saying, “take your time. Breathe slowly. Wear a mask. Stay at home. Read a book.” This should be good for our souls. But, it's not.
We played the flute for you, and you did not dance... - Jesus
As we adapt to our personal misfortunes, we ought to gain wisdom to respond to the misfortunes of others. Our first response to a crisis may be to say, “why is this happening to me?” Religion offers another response: What can I learn?
I once had a church member tell me that it was the preacher’s job to make her feel guilty. Is that what motivates your sacrifice today? Guilt? Religion can either be about putting things of greater and greater value upon the altar, or it can be about living with compassion, curiosity, and a willingness to go where the spirit leads us.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul - Jesus
Much like the serenity prayer, Jesus encourages us to change the political systems that we can change, to remain nonviolent, reluctantly accepting the limitations of human sin and political failure, and to pray for the wisdom to know the difference. If we do this well, we will be persecuted.