“Come to him, a living stone…let yourselves be built into a spiritual house…” This pandemic is leading and guiding us to be living stones—stones with “hearts” for those who are neglected. For the Hebrews, it was their widows who were neglected. As we pay attention to the news today, we learn of many who are neglected. Some of them, deemed “essential” for work, are also unable to work from home and are therefore exposed to the virus, many without the protection they need. The protection they seek might include protective wear, a safe environment, access to testing, insurance, and counseling. Some are being threatened with the loss of their jobs if they don’t show up to work (even if they might be sick or feel that their health is being threatened). They are neglected. Some are ready to go back to work but are worried about child care because school was their child care (and food). Some are low wage workers dependent on tips. Many of these are uninsured. As for the undocumented, even if they are married to citizens and have children who are citizens, their status disqualifies everyone in their family from receiving “relief” benefits. All of these might be deemed the neglected today.
How then are we to be “living stones”—stones that rebuild the community? The Scripture readings for this weekend ask for new leaders, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, chosen by the community to assist all in becoming obedient to the faith. Peter invites us to come, to let ourselves be built into a spiritual house, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. What do those sacrifices look like? How are we being transformed into “living stones” during this time?
The readings ask us to address structural issues as well. How do we define essential work? Who gets “hazard” pay? What is a living wage? How did so many become so vulnerable? Why are we pitting “health” against “economy”? Disagreements about what is good for all have arisen among us, just as they did in Jesus’ time. In the midst of division, Jesus always prayed for himself and for his followers. He provided his disciples with a vision that asked: What are the desires of God’s heart? What are the Lord’s designs for our flourishing?
Jesus was very clear in saying, “I am the Way.” He didn’t say he was the way, if we wanted him to be. Or if it was convenient! Living and praying with the Word we ask again. Be our Way. Be our Truth. Be our Life. Be the Source of our flourishing. May we not only survive, but thrive.