And suddenly there was with me
An ocean of humanity
A sea of many faces
In waves of warm embraces
And while I questioned how to judge them all
Who would rise and who would fall
I found myself among them
And it mattered little who was wrong or right
– from the song “The Only One” by John Fischer
The wind is picking up and it’s 71 degrees outside at 5:00 in the morning. That’s probably a little hard for some of you to take on the 8th of December. That’s a little rare for us, too, here in Southern California, but then again, what’s normal about anything right now? Nothing’s been normal since they cancelled baseball’s spring training last March. Restaurants are again only available for takeout. Hair and nail salons are closing. We’ve gone backwards in the last few weeks. Our COVID-19 numbers are higher than ever. Lockdowns are tied to how many ICU beds are available in a local community and our units are filing up.
There’s a medical office three blocks from where we live and I pass by it just about every time I run a local errand. Lately there has been a line of cars out front with people being tested for the virus. Nurses are out there in their scrubs, masks, and shields, standing in the street taking swabs of people’s noses while they sit in their cars. It looks more like something out of a science fiction movie than something real that is happening in my neighborhood.
Who brought this on? Who first caught it and then passed it on to someone who passed it on to someone else and soon it was too late? The proverbial cat out of the bag. And now look what’s happening. The numbers are staggering.
A neighbor who served at the tail end of WWII reminded me yesterday that it was the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which drew America into the war with Japan 79 years ago. He said that 2,400 people died that day. Today, I found out that America is averaging over 2,200 deaths a day from COVID-19. That helps put it into perspective, doesn’t it? That’s one Pearl Harbor attack every day.
Somehow, we’ve got to get a sense that we are all in this together. This doesn’t affect me unless it’s infecting me? Is that how this goes? It should not be, especially for me, a follower of Christ, whose sin and salvation has me in the human race with access to compassion, empathy, understanding and hope. My sin links me to the desperate condition of the world and to the amazing grace of God who forgives and forgets. How can you not fall all over yourself when you meet anybody who may not know about this? How can I not hurt with those who hurt when I have been pained myself — when I have been indicted and forgiven?
That’s why we welcome everyone with the message of Grace Turned Outward, and why, when we face the world, and those who are in the world, judgment falls away, and we realize we are all in this together.