The only response that can stand up against COVID-19 is love.

Loving through closed doors

  • Rev. Lisa Kipp
  • Mar 30, 2020

I can’t recall a time when our global world felt more connected. I talk on the phone with my best friend in eastern Africa and his fears are the same as mine: will we be able to keep our families safe? Do we have access to the necessities we need? What is going to happen to this world that we both love? Even as we shelter in place behind closed doors, it’s nearly impossible to deny our interconnectedness.

Our well-being depends on the well being of others – all others around the world. We are facing a disease that crosses all borders. It connects us all. COVID-19 spreads regardless of political affiliation, class, gender, nationality, or where you live. It takes lives. It isolates. It induces fear.

It can be tempting to let that fear win; to look inward and worry about only ourselves and those closest to us.

But our faith urges us to see the world differently.

Lutheran World Relief marks its 75th anniversary this year. It hardly feels like the time to celebrate, but this moment also pushes us to look back at our roots. LWR began in 1945. The U.S. had just made its way through the Great Depression. World War 2 was finally coming to a close. Surely there was despair and rebuilding work to do at home … and yet U.S. Lutherans refused to turn inward. Brothers and sisters around the world were suffering. Faith propelled them to respond with love for their neighbors.

“Now you are the body of Christ,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “and individually members of it … if one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). As we take stock of the world around us and the suffering caused by this global pandemic, Paul points us toward a response: love.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).

The only response that can stand up against this disease is love.

Love in its most universal, purest form. Love in the form of social distancing, empty churches, and a unified support of healthcare workers. Love that crosses all borders and barriers. Love that is bigger than the fear enticing us to turn inward. Love that reaches out to our most vulnerable and too often forgotten neighbors around the world. Love that never ends.

There’s a story in the Bible to which I keep returning. It’s a little early in the church year to be sharing it, but there’s a moment after Jesus’ resurrection when the disciples are gathered in fear behind closed doors. It’s almost as though they too are sheltering in place. And then Jesus enters and stands before them. What does he offer? Peace. Deep peace.

“Peace be with you,” Jesus says. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). Dear friends, may you all experience this deep peace that Jesus offers. Peace that deepens your breath and calms your fears. Peace that fills your soul and connects you to the world. Peace that turns your hearts outward and sends you forth until God’s love reaches every neighbor.

Rev. Lisa Kipp serves on LWR’s outreach and engagement team as an advisor for congregations. She is an ordained Lutheran pastor.

Rev. Lisa Kipp, Mar 30, 2020 email