Easter sunrise

farm

In my whole life, I’ve never, ever missed an Easter Mass. This one hurt.

There are several streaming possibilities to view the Mass electronically, during this age of coronavirus and closed churches. But softly proclaiming the Sunday readings while watching dawn break over our farm seemed a worthy option, too.

At a Mass weeks before, the priest addressed the fears that many people had of the very contagious virus. He gave lots of acceptable reasons for choosing to stay home instead of attending services. I had to smile because he was giving permission to stay away, but I actually like going to church. I miss it.

True, we can be with God anywhere—even near a farm pond. And certainly, He wants us to love and protect others.

But I believe He wants us to be brave, too. And why wouldn’t we have the confidence to be courageous? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

There are many, different ways to be brave. Be true to your way.

And then may God’s peace, love and strength be with you all the days of your life.

I leave you with the Word.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Peter proceeded to speak and said, “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 118, Verses 16-23

The Lord’s right hand strikes with power; the Lord’s right hand is raised;
The Lord’s right hand strikes with power.
I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord chastised me harshly, but he did not hand me over to death.
Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the Lord.
This is the Lord’s own gate, where the victors enter.
I thank you for you answered me; you have been my savior.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Colossians

Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John. Glory to you, O Lord.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Country needs our protection from pandemic, too

coronovirus

Image by Shutterstock.

Nobody knew the number “15” could be so challenging and deadly. Challenging for citizens to do their best to social distance for at least 15 days, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Deadly to our nation’s economy.

Despite this, we’ve been a mostly cooperative group because Americans tend to be try-hards when it comes to protecting our citizens. Our regulation nation does whatever it can to protect us from every disease, accident and tragedy.

That we’ll all be safe and well is what everyone wants, but we can never fully succeed in that quest. Living is still, and always will be, a risky business. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 39,000 died in car accidents last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that recent past flu seasons have seen as many as 61,000 deaths in one year. Based on data from the National Institute of Mental Health, 47,000 died from suicide in 2017. And the National Cancer Institute says that nearly 610,000 died from cancer in 2018.

These casualties were important, too—all people loved by someone. But none of these diseases, accidents or tragedies triggered a complete shutdown of our economy.

We’re braking hard right now for the global pandemic and national emergency that is COVID-19. It’s already taken hundreds of American lives, and it will take many more. The majority of deaths from this virus occur in the elderly, who also have serious underlying health conditions.

According to the CDC, the virus has an incubation of 2 – 14 days after exposure before symptoms may appear. It makes the “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” plan sound reasonable.

Nursing homes, schools, churches, restaurants, bars, sporting events, festivals, concerts, non-profit fundraising dinners, and many small businesses and large corporations have been shuttered during this time. It’s an effort to reduce personal contacts in order to reduce the number of infections and hospitalizations. Flattening the curve can avoid spikes that could overwhelm our health care providers.

But grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and essential businesses remain open and are continuing to receive foot traffic. People still need food, gas, medicine, and other essential supplies and services. Turns out that immobilizing 300,000,000 people for long periods of time just isn’t that easy. Basic human needs must still be met.

It’s too soon to tell whether or not 15 days will flatten the curve. The experts could be right, or they could be wrong. At this point, it doesn’t matter.

If they’re right and it worked, we can take what we’ve learned about virus containment and slowly and cautiously restart our economy. If the experts are wrong and it didn’t work, we have to seriously question the amount of public good that can be done by continuing restrictions.

For example, coronavirus cases are soaring in New York City. Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, stated, “Clearly, the virus has been circulating there for a number of weeks…” It’s possible that the virus is already too far ahead of us.

What we do know, though, is that our economy went from robust and healthy to one that is on life support. Whether the experts are right or wrong, at the end of this 15-day period, it will be time to make an adjustment in favor of restoring economic health.

We can continue to protect the elderly, children, and those with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions. Let their 15 days become 15 weeks, if necessary.

For the rest of us—who are healthy and able to work—be ready for the call to get this country’s economy back on the move.

Even one coronavirus death is too many. But our country is dying and needs our protection, too.