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Health and Community

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For two summers, when I was in seminary, I was a guide at Wilderness Canoe Base [now directed by RLC's own Nathan Berkas]. Those summers were incredibly formative for me. One of my key learnings was the importance of community. We learned that the individual would never make it to the conclusion of the trip without the whole group pitching in – some carrying canoes, some carrying packs, gathering firewood, cooking, washing dishes, etc. Together we made a wonderful trip for each individual.

In a time of Covid-19 an emphasis on the individual can be harmful to our health. Health science gives us guidance how to stay healthy but our individual impulse is to resist--to not let anyone else tell us what to do. You’ve seen the protests based on this thinking.

Covid-19 is showing us that health is a community product. It is more than exercising and eating good food and taking a pill if those don't work. The value of public health experts has never been clearer. Individual health is a function of the community working together.

In I Corinthians 12 St. Paul talks of the gifts of the Spirit – wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, etc. – "each is given by the Spirit...for the common good." (verse 7) This is especially referring to the church, but the thinking comes from the Old Testament where the focus was always on "Israel” the group, the whole people of God. Of course God loves the lost sheep, lost coin, etc., and we are among them. But the vision of the Bible is just as much on the collective-- the church, the nation, or "the people of Israel."

As we continue our practice of avoiding close contacts perhaps we can keep in mind our identity as God's children – part of the greater kingdom of God. We are in this together. We contribute as we are able. At RLC we are doing this by making phone calls, sending cards, bringing meals, donating our (unused) Sunday donuts and coffee to local care centers, praying for each other, sharing online worship and devotions.

Connie Marchio told the staff recently, "Breathe. This is just a chapter, not the whole story." In canoe trip lingo, "It's just a portage, not the whole trip." Together, as a community, we will get through this. The Holy Spirit is giving us gifts to make it happen. Can you feel the Spirit blowing?

– Rolf Olson, Visitation Pastor



Gracious Spirit, breathe your blessing on us all. Give patience in our frustration. Give peace in our anxiety. We are part of your great creative work. We are blessed to be called into your Church. We pray that our lives will reflect your work in us and through us, that health in our communities might prevail. In the name of the One who died that we might live, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen