Pastor's Pen

Sabbath Economics and COVID-19

Posted on: May 5, 2020

Occasionally, (well, more than occasionally, actually) I come across other people’s words that express important things better than I can. This is one of those instances. The author is Susan Taylor, vice-president of the Faith and Money Network Board of Directors. The Faith and Money Network is a ministry of Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. Its purpose is to “equip people to build honest, just, community-centered relationships with money.”

“Fear not!” the angels are recorded as saying throughout Scripture. “Fear not!” is easier said than done during a pandemic, in my opinion. To ease the fear, I find myself looking for comforts of the soul.

Three things that comfort my spirit during the pandemic of 2020.

The Sabbath economy is at work everywhere.

People are picking up groceries for their neighbors, creating sidewalk art, and putting bears in windows for neighborhood kids to find on their family walks. If you share a need on neighborhood social media, people respond by sharing from their stash of disinfecting wipes or lending a tool or other supply to help people be able to stay at home.

People are creating ways to support local businesses, while businesses create ways to safely continue to serve their customers. Artists worldwide share their music and theater online. People are literally risking their lives to deliver milk and toilet paper to our neighborhood stores.

Medical professionals show up day after day, facing down their fears to take care of others. Most people are sacrificing to stay home to keep each other healthy.

In “normal” times, our ways of daily living are too often antithetical to the vision of God’s economy, but when a crisis arises, we look for ways to make sure everyone has what they need. We know how to do this Sabbath Economics thing!

Sabbath for our planet

Our planet gets a sabbath, a rest from human production and consumption and travel and extraction.

I delight in pictures from cities around the world—cities I will never see in person—restored to health and beauty because human pollution is on hold. Wild animals are exploring suburbs because human activity has almost stopped, leaving space for them in space that was once theirs to roam. I take great comfort in how quickly our earth can heal herself.

We are not in this alone

Even in the isolation of our households in lock-down, we know that across the globe, people share this vulnerability—physical separation and grief forced on us by the pandemic. We are videoconferencing and texting and throwing kisses from car windows as we drive by the houses of our loved ones we cannot see in person right now.

When the physical distancing restrictions began and I felt my fear start to ramp up, I thought about my precious church community and remembered that I am not alone. If I need something, people will help me, as I will help them. Friends, families, and congregations worldwide are imagining new ways to reach out to each other. Community, community, community.

These comforts may not help me tomorrow, as my fears seem to shift day by day. They may not feel like comforts to you at all; our comforts are as personal as our fears. But in the naming of them, I have found some comfort, some reminders of what matters most to me. “Fear not!” say the angels. I respond, “I’m working on it.”

—Pastor Fogal

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