By: Rev. Jeff LeCrone, St. Luke Lutheran Church, Williamsport
Recently, I visited someone in the hospital. It was my first visit after May 11th, the official last day of the national coronavirus emergency. The hospital was one of the last places where mitigations were still in place. But this time, I didn’t have to take my temperature or show my clergy card to gain entrance. I walked right in, and as I looked around, no one was wearing a mask. Even though pandemic mitigations had already been abandoned months earlier in most public places, I was struck by how different everything felt in the hospital with none of the coronavirus precautions in place.
The experience led me to start thinking about what it would be like to live in a world where we did not need protection from a different type of disease: human sin. During the pandemic, most people considered mask wearing, social distancing, and several other measures highly inconvenient and frustrating. But consider all of the things we do to protect ourselves from the sinfulness of human beings. We lock our doors to prevent theft. We ignore phone calls that come from numbers we don’t recognize to avoid being scammed. We buy software to protect our computers from (man-made) viruses. We even train our children how to hide and protect themselves in the event of a mass shooting. We hide behind laws, borders, and walls to seek protection from those we fear will harm us.
The Covid-19 pandemic may be over, but the sin pandemic rages on. And because of it, we still need to take certain precautions to protect us from others (and even ourselves).
Imagine living in a world where we could walk as freely as I did through the hospital the other day, without having to worry about any risk or danger. Imagine a world where we could go anywhere without the concern of getting robbed, scammed, or taken advantage of. Imagine a world where all people could be capable of loving all other people, regardless of race, gender, orientation, or ideology. Imagine a world where all people could be more concerned about the welfare of their neighbor than they are about their own interests. In such a world, universal trust would be possible.
Some might call such a world…heavenly. Conventional religious wisdom holds that we will need to wait until we die to experience such a heaven. But Jesus taught his followers to hope and pray for that type of heaven to come to us in the “here and now.” The disciples of Jesus once asked him to teach them how to pray. The prayer he taught included these words: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV).
The protections that were instituted during the pandemic were hotly debated by many, but I was one who was willing to endure them for a season in the hopes of a better day. The sin pandemic has been with us for more than a season. But God promises us that a better day is coming. Let us live into that hope by receiving the love of God and returning it to all.