Food for thought (or, better yet, for prayer and meditation).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit this month in full force, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been posting homilies, or messages, to YouTube. This one, addressed to “Dear Church,” riffs on Sunday’s common lectionary readings (for Lent V), the story of Lazarus in the Gospel according to St. John and the parable of the dry bones at Ezekiel 37:1-14. That’s the one where the prophet Ezekiel sees a valley filled with dry bones, and they come alive.
It’s worth reading — the poetry is magnificant — but the gist of the story is a conversation between Ezekiel and the Lord.
“Mortal, can these bones live?” asks the Lord.
Ezekiel answers, “O Lord God, you know.”
And, as Eaton summarizes the rest of the story in her homily, it’s a perfect parable for our time.
… then the Lord tells him to prophesy, and, sure enough, sinews and flesh come upon the bones. Breath comes into them, and they stood on their feet and lived.
And so will we.
Eaton also has some perfect advice for our time. “This disease is not a Chinese virus,” she says. “Nor is it the fault of the elderly.” We should guard their health and safety, and we should pray for the health and safety of health care workers.
Eaton was speaking in Chicago, where the mayor had to close city parks and beaches yesterday, warning that “congregating on our lakefront, to be blunt, is going to create a risk that is unacceptable and could lead to death. That is why we are taking these actions and going back and saying again: dear god, stay home, save lives.”
While she didn’t quote the mayor of Chicago, Eaton very strongly suggested that’s good advice anywhere:
We have to pay attention to the warnings and advice of our medical professionals, scientists and also our local officials. And shelter-in-place seems the only way we have to slow this disease. Pay attention to them.