1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee … 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. … 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” – Luke 3:1-3, 10-11, NRSV
Hand sanitizer. I can’t believe it. I actually had a dream about hand sanitizer. Strange times we’re living in, friends. It was a simple dream. I dreamed I was in a store, looking for hand sanitizer, and I found one — an extra-large pump-style bottle of hand sanitizer, way up on a high shelf, but not out of reach. And that’s it. That was the whole dream. (My daughter, for her part, had a dream in which she had to save her father, her brother, and me from an evil witch’s castle. My husband said she’s been watching too many Narnia movies while stuck at home.)
A dream about hand sanitizer. It was bound to happen sometime, I suppose. Dreams help our minds process our thoughts, our experiences, our stresses, our fears. Right now, coronavirus is probably on all of our minds, whether waking or sleeping. In this season of coronavirus, my mind fixated on hand sanitizer (despite the fact that I haven’t even run out of it yet).
Yet throughout our nation — and throughout our world, really — hand sanitizer is in short supply, right along with rubbing alcohol and cleaning wipes. They’re hot commodities at the moment, as people become more and more desperate to protect themselves from coronavirus.
That’s why I found it so striking, so encouraging, when Pastor Debbie walked into last week’s prayer team meeting and handed each of the members a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer. (They were leftovers, she said, from some event in a previous church.) And she just… gave them away. Five our six bottles of hand sanitizer. Five or six bottles of hand sanitizer that she could have kept for herself.
Of course, Pastor Debbie wouldn’t have considered hoarding them. She’s our Pastor of Congregational Care, after all — caring for the needs of the people in our congregation is her calling! Besides, she’s more than familiar with the words of John the Baptist in our scripture reading for today. At the start of his ministry, as he travels along the Jordan River, John the Baptist calls the people to repent and be baptized. But as part of that repentance, he also calls them to be generous and compassionate: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Luke 3:11, NRSV). And whoever has five or six hand sanitizers, John might say, must share with those who have none.
As stores experience shortages of basic items like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, rubbing alcohol, toilet paper, paper towels, meat, milk, and more… it’s an opportunity for the people of God to step up. It’s an opportunity for the people of God to be generous. It’s an opportunity for the people of God to show compassion. So in this season of coronavirus, may you be inspired by Pastor Debbie’s example and challenged by John the Baptist’s words. When you have enough — when you have more than enough — may you share with those who have none. May you call relatives and ask what supplies are running low. May you drop off a few rolls of toilet paper on a neighbor’s porch. In an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, it’s one powerful way that we, the people of Wesley Church, can truly be the church.
As you do, hold fast to this truth:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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