Wanted: Another Great Awakening

Window – Stormy Seas McKinley United Methodist Church, Winona MN 2001

After a year and a half of controversy and coming to blows over mask mandates, social distancing, school closings, restaurant closings and Covid vaccines, I’ve concluded we need another *Great Awakening in this country. We need a conversion to a love and concern for our brothers and sisters.

Governor Bill Lee has had his setbacks in trying to keep people in Tennessee safe. In his skeptical state, actions to prevent Covid have been met with anger, resentment and rumors. Recently, he issued Executive Order 83, a health measure in the face of the exploding numbers of people in Tennessee filling up their hospitals. The order allows the National Guard to fill in gaps in their overstressed healthcare system. Within days, conspiracy theories took off. Forced to deal with the rumors, the Governor’s staff sent a memo to their State Legislature dispelling the myths, including some quite strange ones.

The memo explicitly stated, Executive Order 83:
     Does not create quarantine camps.”
      “Tennessee National Guard members will not round up unvaccinated citizens and take them to be quarantined or vaccinated.”
       “COVID-19 vaccines are not being given to livestock so it will enter the food supply to vaccinate citizens through meat consumption.”

Back in December, as the vaccine rollout began, Governor Lee said: “One thing this vaccine will not solve, or cure is selfishness or indifference to what is happening to our neighbors around us. This vaccine will not cure foolish decisions about how we gather. It will not cure an attitude of a refusal to wear a mask. It will not cure having the idea that ‘I will take chances and it will not impact someone else’s life.'”

My first year of seminary, a missionary couple told us that people experience two conversions in their faith life. “The first conversion people experience is to God,” they said. “The second conversion is to their brothers and sisters.”

The cure for selfishness is conversion – a changed attitude. It’s to realize that our actions do have an impact on other people’s lives. We need a Great Awakening that includes both love for God and love for our neighbors. We need a love that looks beyond our wants and preferences, to our neighbor’s needs.

We need to recognize again what the writer of I John so aptly stated: “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” I John 5:20-21

Wearing a mask and looking out for each other during a pandemic, is Christ like love. The very essence of faith and the heart of Christianity.

 

*The Great Awakening was a period when people turned back to God.  The Second Great Awakening, led to social changes.