Quite early into the pandemic, COVID19 seemed a bit peculiar, or should I say, novel. Take away anything reported about the virus's inception, the response to its potential impact was much more anxious than a normal response to a virus. It didn’t take long for “unprecedented” and “new normal” to be used in nauseum to tell the story of the virus. What followed was the closure of schools, restaurants and other businesses. We succumbed to a mask mandate. Even churches closed bowing their heads to the state and unfortunately putting “masks” on to celebrate the most important event of Christendom - Easter. More restrictions were placed on us under the encouragement of being a good citizen and being safe.
Now as we experience an increase in cases and hospitals being busier, it might seem to be the wrong time to talk about the virus in a hopeful way. Afterall, it’s a killer. We’re in a pandemic. We are constantly at risk. However, it’s time for a perspective that has been rarely shared and certainly not emphasized. We are constantly being told many things by health experts and elected leaders about COVID19 but let’s consider a counter message to each of the pandemic’s lexicons. Over the next few posts, consider a hopeful response, a faithful response, to the fear language of the day. This week- “Unprecedented.”
When the Spanish Influenza hit the world in 1918-1919, the results were staggering. This particular coronavirus killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 people in the United States. Back then, the virus was not even known to be influenza. There were no antibiotics (invented in 1928). The world was under the chaos of WW1. Tamiflu? No such thing. Ventilators weren’t around until 1918. Now? We have treatments that have proven helpful and the promise of vaccines are possibly weeks away. (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html#learning)
What is a needed takeaway of COVID19 as it relates to “unprecedented?” We need to study history. We need to remember our past...and learn from it. In education today, history is replaced with social studies with decades of changing the historical narrative. Education has diminished the importance of knowing history, has weakened our roots and made a culture of emotion and impulsivity.
The writer of Ecclesiates says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We’d be wise to instill a desire to know our past. We are wise when we sit at the feet of our elders and hear of their ups and downs and how they persevered. We are wise to consider that while something may be brand new to us, it probably was experienced elsewhere or at a different period of time. We are wise to consider with humility the insights and experiences of others.
In the past two years, TLSP initiated and our district joined in leading a major project. In true collaboration, a team of educators statewide wrote a unique social studies and history curriculum for use in our Lutheran schools. While meeting and exceeding the standards of the state, this curriculum integrates Christian faith into its study. Kudos to the team that dedicated hours and hours of time to a product that is versatile and rigorous. The curriculum is not bound by the bias of a textbook. Rather, our Lutheran teachers worked through each grade level, making electronically accessed materials that will support our schools. It was a labor of love- and great thanks goes to the team that put the product together.
This emphasis in history is a needed component of our curriculum. Not knowing our history is a dangerous spiral, a spiral that can do damage to our understanding of Jesus and the history of God’s people and the world. Take a way history and the truth of Scripture can go the way of fable. Go the way of fable and Jesus is a mythological person. But this is not so. Jesus was born in a real time and a real place (Luke 2:1-2) and walked this earth (check out the many times the Gospel writers talk about cities that still are known today). Most importantly, there is the historical fact that He died. History also speaks to the empty tomb. Now an empty tomb, witness of Jesus’ appearance to hundreds after his resurrection? That’s unprecedented!
Dig into history. Dig into your own history! Those conversations about the past, the family history, are important for understanding and building the dynamics of family. Some of the history may just bring about some lasting stories of head scratching decisions and hilarious memories.
But the most important look back occurs in worship where we walk the life of the Church, hear the stories of those that have gone before us, and hear about the hope we have in Christ. Don't’ make going to church something that is unprecedented. Make it a part of your discipline; your walk with Christ.