|Two years into this pandemic I am also thinking about the at least 1 million people dead in the United States, 6 million around the world. We know these numbers are probably a low count. I read an article last week that said that for every person who died, 9 people are victims of the loss in one way or another, their lives irrevocably, and oftentimes, traumatically changed. All of our lives have been touched in one way or another by this pandemic. I’ve lost loved ones. Many of us have had Covid, which I found to be a harrowing and scary experience that I am still processing. I know so many of you have also had these things happen in your lives. We are all different from these things. And we can’t go backwards to March 2020; we are a changed people.
At the beginning of the pandemic I shared a few times an article by the great Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, that I found so helpful – The Pandemic is a Portal – about what she could see and envision at that moment in her home country. I think about her words in this article all the time:
“Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Dr. Jeremy Williams writes of the Luke 13: 1-9 passage for this upcoming Sunday in Working Preacher that, “Jesus uses these unpredictable, unchangeable incidents to prompt his audience to change what they can—their minds. Jesus tells them to repent (metanoeō)—to change their mind about their current commitments to injustice and unrighteousness. Changing one’s mind in this way leads to a change in conduct. This term is the Greek translation of the Hebrew (shuv); the core meaning of which is “to return” or “to go back” or even “to go home.” Jesus invites the audience to adjust their current course and return to God. If they opt to not return or choose to not change their minds, they risk being ruined (apollumi) in the same way (ōsautōs) as the Galileans and Jerusalemites. Here, “same way” means “suddenly and unprepared.” Jesus is not suggesting that repentance will prevent them from a physical, catastrophic death. Rather, he is stating that changing their minds will prepare them for whatever they will experience, including producing fruit.”