COVID-19 is truly a world impacting event. It has changed the patterns of our lives whether we live in Canada, the U.S., or Africa. In the midst of this world changing event, how do we think theologically about COVID-19 in ways that shape our response in word and deed?
N.T. Wright in his short book (75 pages long), God and the Pandemic, gives wisdom on how to responds to COVID-19 with a godly mind and heart. He brings us through understanding how we can be tempted to grab hold more of Greek philosophies in our response (e.g. Plato: “Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen. We’re heading somewhere else anyway.”), rather than holding to a Christ-centered response.
Wright, in fact, holds that in this moment we have to be centered on Christ as the revelatory one and revelatory event. Because he is we don’t look for the “whys” in the pandemic (e.g. this happened because of the increasing sin in the west), but rather we look to the “what”. What is the Christian response to this and indeed to all pandemics? How has the church responded in the past to this kind of large scale suffering? The “what” of our respond outweighs the “why” did this happen. Again, this is because Jesus is the revelatory one and event that we point toward as we call people to God, not some happening on the world stage.
The response of God’s people, in Wright’s perspective, is to care for those who are suffering and be people of lament. He writes,
So what are we saying? Not only do we, the followers of Jesus, not have any words to say, any great pronouncements on ‘what this all means’ to trumpet out to the world (the world, of course, isn’t waiting eagerly to hear us anyway); but we, the followers of Jesus, find ourselves caught up in the groaning of creation, and we discover that at the same time God the Spirit is groaning within us. That is our vocation: to be in prayer, perhaps wordless prayer, at the point where the world is in pain.
Lament, says Wright, actually leads to caring action. It is in lament that our hearts break and we move into ways to bring healing to the world
Along the way in this journey Wright touches on many issues of importance to Pastors and Laypeople. He also gives good doses of wisdom that are needed in this time of pandemic.
This is a book worth the time and investment.