The strange world of COVID-19” – I heard someone refer to the pandemic with these words recently- perhaps the kindest way I’ve heard it referenced. But it made sense. On the one hand, many of us have been doing less things, engaging in fewer activities, because so many things have been closed. On the other hand, it seems to take longer to do the things that we do, and so, while we’re less busy, we’re still tired. Strange” seems to be a fitting word.
The varying ways in which we’re all coping contributes to this characterization. After getting through the first month of simply reacting and figuring out which way was up, I began to work on a project at home with my daughter. After our school- and work- days, we were painting the walls or laying a floor, and so on, to refresh our basement.
I also picked up an old project that needed attention. Having journaled for years, recently I went to a digital platform, so I’ve begun to transcribe my old, hand-written journals into the new platform. It’s a painstakingly slow project, and the strange world of COVID-19 has prompted its resumption.
I found myself reviewing my own words from January 2007, reflecting on Moses’ words in the book of Deuteronomy. I thought it was an odd book of the Bible, because it’s largely Moses repeating himself and reminding Israel of their previous experiences. I was struck then, and again now, that in the midst of all the laws that Moses shared with the people of Israel, there were laws about how Israel should treat ‘foreigners, orphans, and widows’, as it is described in the translation I was reading at the time. (Deut. 14:29, 15:4, 15:11, 24:19-22)
When I re-read these journal entries, it reminded me of the foundational nature of these instructions. In Christianity, we look to these Old Testament teachings as the basis in our faith practice. We understand passages like these to include other people who are marginalized today, including those of us with disabilities. We also know and teach that communities are better when people who were once marginalized are fully engaged – it’s part of the fullness of the Body of Christ that we understand from the apostle Paul’s teaching in his first letter to the Corinthian church.
That’s not the point of these passages. Here, Moses reminds Israel that because they are ‘blessed’, because they have wheat and olives and grapes, they need to share them with those who do not, because at one time they did not have their own wheat and olives and grapes. One time they were enslaved. One time they were marginalized. God promised to bring them out of the margins into community, and they then needed to do the same.
During this global pandemic, Christian Horizons has experienced many examples of people helping other people be part of community. For example, technology has helped many people to stay connected with their loved ones – some are connecting even more than before the pandemic. People have learned new skills, like baking and cooking. Some have used their time to write cards to seniors who were also isolated in retirement homes. Others have decorated their windows and doors with art to encourage their neighbours. At the end of August, we also hosted Christian Horizons first ever virtual Family Camp. This was a wonderful success. While it wasn’t the same as an in-person Family Camp, it was, for some families, an even more accessible form of community.
In the countries where Christian Horizons partners to support people with disabilities internationally, our staff and partners continue to find creative ways to safely support inclusive education and help to alleviate food insecurity for them and their families.
How are you continuing to contribute to communities where belonging happens in this strange world of COVID-19? If you’re so inclined, you can partner with us by praying for us at Christian Horizons.Please also consider visiting our webpage to consider how you might be involved.
Supporting people who experience marginalization to be part of community is a required practice of faith that is thousands of years old. The attention of all of us is needed in order to accomplish this today. The strange world of COVID-19 has afforded me a reminder – that what we do to lead the way in helping communities around the world be places of belonging is core to what it means to be a person of Christian faith, and core to what it means to serve on behalf of Christian Horizons.