Subject: Daily Prayers and Scriptures: Wednesday, April 8

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As the whole world is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are posting Daily Bible Readings for your inspiration and encouragement. Texts for Monday through Saturday are selected in support of the Sunday lesson in the Uniform Lessons Series, Spring 2020. A daily meditation written by faith leaders who are friends and partners of the NCC accompanies each day’s Bible reading.

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Romans 5:12-17, NRSV
Free Gift of Grace and Hope

5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Where is Christ within the crowded desperation that COVID-19 has created?

By Lee Catoe, the managing editor of Unbound and the Associate for Young Adult Social Witness for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, PCUSA

As the coronavirus makes its way across the world, panic has ensued, reflected in grocery stores depleted of toiletries and sanitizer, airlines shutting down travel, nation-wide bans, college closings, market craters, church live streaming, and individual and communal anxiety rising to an all-time high. While the US government does little in the face of this pandemic, we are forced into an eerie apocalyptic desperation where good sense, practical means, and respect for science seem lacking. We are in times that are straight from Hollywood fiction and yet, the events reveal we were only an epidemic or pandemic away from uncovering the problems of our democracy and our systems.

Honestly, this should be no surprise. People should not have to die for us to see the glaring weaknesses of our healthcare system. People should not have to be in a state of desperation for us to see the lack of public health planning. Human beings should not have to bear these burdens. But they do…and the ones who will bear the largest burden are those who are not insured, who have pre-existing conditions, who do not have homes, who have mental illness, who are poor, who cannot take off work or work from home, who cannot simply leave college because their institution shut down (went cyber?), who cannot skip school because they have to eat. They suffer because of the systems that cannot handle one crisis ounce, one virus, one real challenge to change. They die because of the systems that favor those insulated by privilege and not the majority of the citizens who are affected. They are in pain because of the systems that care more about the market than they do about humanity.

Where is Christ within the crowded desperation that COVID-19 has created!?

John 5 tells us:

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew, Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ 7 The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ 8 Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

The stirring of the pool refers to the widely believed legend that an angel would come and stir the waters of the pool and then you had to get into the pool quickly in order to be healed. Hundreds of people must have been crowded around this pool just waiting in desperation and anticipation. But as the man says, he could not get into the pool as others would step over him…he was stuck for 38 years! People, healthier than he, more able to play the system, more able to ignore others, walked over him.

That swirling, myth of a system wasn’t working. This system convinced this man to believe it would heal him even when Jesus asks him if he wanted to be made well. But the Bethsaida pool system does not work for him. This system creates desperation because it only works for a few. And Jesus sees this. Jesus sees that there needs to be another option. He sees through the false hope to the death by stagnation that haunts the whole crowd.

In the same way, Jesus sees that the illusion that the United States’ healthcare system or economic system or housing system is sufficient is just that…an illusion and a lie. These systems have almost mythic power over us based on our desire that they work, but under that is a desperation that there is no alternative. The government is not going to rescue us.

As our siblings suffer with this new coronavirus, as they take the fall for rulers and leaders selling mythical solutions, we must seek, fight for, and imagine other options because that is what Christ did.

Christ is found in the other option:

The option that takes imagination.

The option that puts people first not politics or polity.

The option that drains the pools of oppressive systems and economic parasites.

The option that is not about ego or pride.

The option that can withstand victim-blaming .

But has the other option been thrown away or is it too late for it? If that is the case, then we are in times of deep uncertainty so we must do what we can…Below is a list of ways to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading:

You can follow our daily readings, prayers, and meditations on our website at safe, healthy, and blessed during this time.
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