1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. … 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ -Luke 10:1-2, 8-9
In a preschool classroom full of Princess Elsas, my little girl’s Halloween costume was… unique. “What do you want to be for Halloween this year?” we had asked weeks earlier.
“A doctor Batman,” she said. Every time we asked, the answer was the same. A doctor Batman. So by Halloween, she had her costume: a Batman mask on her face, a stethoscope around her neck, and a cape attached to her little lab coat. The Caped Crusader with an advanced medical degree.
Maybe she’ll grow up to be a doctor. Maybe she’ll grow up to be Batman. The sky is the limit for my little girl.
Ellie has always loved dressing up like a doctor… so it was no surprise this week when she bounded into the living room wearing her little lab coat and face mask (a toy medical mask this time, not a Batman mask), carrying a toy stethoscope and thermometer. “I’m Doctor Ellie!” she exclaimed.
I looked at my daughter, dressed in her lab coat, fiddling with her face mask, trying to keep it on… and found myself thinking about all the doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrative personnel currently working in our local hospitals, medical offices, and urgent care centers. Superheroes, every one of them… even if they don’t have capes attached to their lab coats and scrubs.
I’m finding myself praying for these superheroes, more and more. For their physical health in the face of the virus. For their mental and emotional health in the midst of so much anxiety. For enough personal protective equipment (PPE — gloves, masks, and the like) to sustain them through this crisis. I don’t remember ever praying for that particular concern before. I don’t remember that ever being a concern before.
At one point in his ministry, after Jesus had sent the twelve disciples out in the world to help and heal and proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom, he gathered together seventy more followers and sent them out, two by two. (It’s good to have a buddy system — Jesus knew that.) The scripture tells us he “sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1, NRSV). Even Jesus couldn’t be everywhere at once, so they went ahead of him — Jesus’ very own advance team. Jesus’ hands and feet and healing power, by proxy.
That’s one of the main things Jesus tells them to do, after all. “Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, … cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'” (Luke 10:8-9, NRSV). Cure the sick who are there, Jesus says. As you go ahead of me, be my hands and feet. Work my healing power. Cure the sick who are there.
I wish we had their stories, the stories of these thirty-five holy advance teams who went out into the world to be Jesus’ hands and feet, to work his healing power. I wish we had the stories of the lives they changed and the people they healed.
We don’t have those stories — not in the Bible, at least. So we’re just going to have to listen for different stories — stories happening right now. Stories of the doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrative personnel who are on the front lines of this coronavirus crisis. Stories of superheroes among us. Stories of people who are the hands and feet of Jesus, who are offering healing and hope.
Pray for them, for these medical professionals, these superheroes, these modern-day Jesus advance teams. Pray for the health and endurance and peace and PPE they need for this crisis. If you’re one of those superheroes, reading this now… we’re praying for you. You’re doing holy work. Hang in there. Take care of yourselves — we need you. Fight the good fight.
Because our God has still offered us countless gifts of love.
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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