September 20, 2020

Salt & Light Online

A current connection to each week's session


The Difference of One
Romans 5:12-21

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As I write this, midday on Sept 11, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the United States is 6,598,228, and the number of deaths is 196,479. These numbers will continue to rise throughout the day, and the death toll most likely will pass 200,000 by the time you read this. In Canada, the total number as of today is 134,924 cases and 9,163 deaths.[1] From the perspective of the 9/11 tragedy, it might be helpful to think that the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States is more than a 9/11/2001 attack every day for two months.

If we let these numbers become more than statistics and think of them as deaths of human beings, the grief can be overwhelming. It is no wonder we look for someone to blame, and we hope for someone to save us.

In a pandemic, we need contact tracing. But we also seem to have an unhealthy curiosity about the identity of patient zero, the Adam who fell and became responsible for death’s entry into our world. Who brought death to us here? A Reuters story in January identifies a male Chinese patient in his 50s who arrived in Toronto from Wuhan as the first “presumptive” confirmed case in Canada.[2] But in late April it was reported that US travelers had first brought COVID-19 to Canada.[3]

Finding a pandemic parallel to Christ’s work in overcoming death is tougher. We clearly want a savior who can offer hope. In this US election season when candidate signs sprinkle lawns like dandelions, I recently saw a handmade sign standing alone on a lawn: “Fauci 2020.” Maybe our director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is a symbol of hope for some.

  • Why do we want to name or blame an individual for something that affects an entire community?
  • Do you agree with Carol Duerksen’s statement that we spend time with “both statues” in the square? (S&L, p. 18)

—Gwen Groff, bethanym@vermontel.net

© 2020

Resources for this session

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1. Worldometer
2. Denny Thomas and Aishwarya Nair, “Canada Identifies First Case of Coronavirus,” Reuters, January 25, 2020.
3. Ryan Tumilty, “Canada’s Early COVID-19 Cases Came from the US not China, Provincial Data Shows,” National Post, April 30, 2020.

Gwen Groff is pastor of Bethany Mennonite Church in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. She lives in Plymouth, Vermont, with her husband and intermittently with her adult children.

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