Stories of These Times · March 28, 2020

After the Prayers, the Purifying

The senior pastor came upon a 16th century story that's instructive for our 21st century pandemic.

In 1527, the Black Death plague raged throughout Germany. In Wittenberg, Pastor Martin Luther gave comfort to the sick.

Some German leaders criticized him. Others wondered what Christians should do. “Is it acceptable,” they asked Pastor Luther, “for a person of faith to flee this deadly plague?”

In a time long before the term “distancing” would become part of daily vocabulary, here is what Luther wrote in response:

I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

Be safe. Be calm. Be patient. Be gracious. Be well.