Hello, Emmaus Community!
This new day promises to bring the following: more unsettling news, more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and abroad, and more unease. How are we to cope? We all have our own ways of dealing with stress, but one way to calm the heart and mind is by engaging reasonable advice. Somehow, even though it won’t change external realities, sound advice serves as a ballast, a counter-weight to the topsy turvy of our daily news and the emotions it brings.
Martin Luther on the Plague
In the quote below, Martin Luther gives some advice to his friend and fellow pastor and reformer, John Hess, on how to face the plague. Of course, COVID-19 and the plague are different, and how we understand this pandemic and medicine in general are different. But Martin Luther’s advice on social distancing is pertinent for those of us who are having to practice social distancing for the good of all and ourselves.
“Use medicine, take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like someone who wants to help put out the burning city. For what else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body? You ought to think this way: ‘Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore, 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.'”
If you’d like to read the article that this snippet came from, you can find it here.
If you’d like to read Martin Luther’s whole letter, you can find it here.
Be of good courage in this trying time.