The following reflection is from guest blogger, Peter Koeppel. May we live into these times grounded in love.
Thank God for Little Pricks!
No, that’s NOT what I’m talking about – I’m talking about the prick of the needle at the business end of a COVID-19 vaccination syringe. Waiting to become eligible for a vaccination, then getting an actual appointment is challenging. Some of us had to wait until late Spring before being eligible for vaccination and then getting an actual appointment. In this process, patience will continue to be a virtue, all around.
There may be no better time to remember 1 Corinthians 13 – what we have done, to protect others and ourselves, what we need to do going forward, as vaccinated and non-vaccinated people mix everywhere, has been, and should continue to be, governed by love.
We’ve worn masks to protect not just ourselves but those around us – we might be carrying and spreading the virus before we know we’ve caught it. As vaccinated and unvaccinated persons mix in the same spaces, we have to newly define what it means to act with love.
What activities can vaccinated persons safely engage in? Is it necessary to continue to wear masks and keep our distance?
First of all, there are of course the recommendations from the CDC. Their answers will evolve over time, as the pandemic and vaccinations take their course; these people have only one objective: to stop this pandemic and keep as many of us, as humanly possible, safe. Their recommendations, even if they change over time, are credible.
Second, for us as Christians, the simple obligation to “whatever you do, do it with love” imposes both an even stronger obligation, and founds it on the love we have for one another, to continue to be careful and considerate of all around us.
Once vaccinated, we may feel safer being out and about; when we hear a cough or a sneeze behind us, we may slowly unlearn to reflexively duck, hoping that the person coughing or sneezing wears a mask. We may find that patronizing neighborhood businesses, who are in a tight spot financially, becomes more important to us. Life will look brighter. We may even end up with “Vaccination Passports” to be able to legally prove that we’ve been vaccinated, and find that doors open for us which remain closed to unvaccinated persons. Just remember, those are legal considerations, not Christian faith considerations. Our Christian faith is clear: if what we do is done without love, we’re just empty vessels, clanging cymbals, nothing. We continue to behave safely, and we don’t rub it in that we’ve been blessed by vaccination, while others may not have received the same yet.
Love also leaves us little leeway when wrestling with the question whether we should get vaccinated ourselves – if we don’t do this for ourselves, shouldn’t we do this for those around us? We all have a vital role in bringing this plague under control and in doing so, save lives.
As we reshape what it means to live in the midst of this pandemic – yes, it’s still raging around us, whether we’re vaccinated or not – our faith commands us to shape our lives around lovingly protecting and supporting those we encounter. Yes, I think that includes engaging in economic activities to ease that particular pain for businesses around us. And it includes continuing to mask up and keep our distance, for the foreseeable future.
Being eligible to get vaccinated, or having been vaccinated, is a blessing, but it’s not a blank check to behave like – never mind: let’s just say: behave uncaringly. If we have love, it won’t let us!