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Posted by Dr. Scott Solberg on Apr 29, 2020

What Does Sacrifice Look Like?

I RECENTLY READ AN ARTICLE that described the many ways in the past the church has responded to pandemics and plagues. Here is the article if you would like to read it. 

For example, there was a plague during the time of Martin Luther and in 1527 he wrote a letter with this title: “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” Kevin Martin, in a recent article in First Things summarizes some of what Luther wrote.

On one hand...

“He encouraged people who were ill or infected to self-quarantine until they were completely well (this was unusual advice in his day). He chastised as murderers those who knew they were sick and yet exposed others to their illness…He encouraged the use of medicines and physicians, and recommended that public hospitals be established to treat this and other epidemics (they were few and far between in the sixteenth century). He wrote that public cemeteries outside of the town center (rare in his day) should be established in order to respect the dead and avoid infections from corpses. In all of this, he was far ahead of his time and would have sounded overly cautious to sixteenth-century ears.”

On the other hand…writes Kevin Martin

“There is no panic in Luther’s letter. He says that Christians ought not neglect their duties at home or in their communities over concerns of illness …He insisted we have a duty to serve our neighbor at all times, even if it might harm or kill us—because we are all bound up together as Christ’s Body…we should care for the sick and to continue in our vocations for the good of our neighbor, even if that brings some risk to ourselves.”

That really does get to the heart of the question, asked by Hannah Nation, “Where is the church at this moment?”

Granted, even since the time of Martin Luther, hospitals have become the center for professional care for the sick and the dying. Largely, one way we do serve our community is to listen to the advice given by the medical community and maintaining social distance.

And yet, at the same time, it might be good to take a lesson from the church in the past and at least ask the question: “what does it look like for us – the church – in this current situation to be present and to sacrifice for the good and the sake of our community?”

Hannah Nation offers several thought-provoking suggestions:

  1. Be digitally present with the sick and dying
  2. Sacrifice our finances
  3. Plant churches

I am sure if we were in a group-setting we could prayerfully brainstorm other ideas as well. As history progresses, what will be written of the church – the people of WEFC – as to how we responded to this crisis? 

Whatever it looks like, may it be said of us that we were present. May it be said of us that we were unafraid and came to the aid of those in need. 

  1. How might you support and encourage those who are on the frontlines?
  2. What can you do to come to the aid of those who have lost their jobs?
  3. What proactive steps can you take to reach out to those who are suffering?
  4. How can you be a companion to the lonely?
  5. How can we support families who are overwhelmed with the demands of work and school all taking place at the same time in their homes?

What might sacrifice look like for us? Sure, it looks different than what it did in the past. But the call to sacrifice is a way of life that never changes for the one who follows Christ.

May God write a story of compassion, courage and love in and through us.