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Back to normal?

Over the last three Sundays, I’ve taken a straw poll of those present in church, and at the time of this writing, approximately 90% of my congregation has had at least one vaccination. My suspicion is that by the time the Feast of Pentecost rolls around (May 23) we will reach almost 100% of the active parishioners having been fully vaccinated. I have to admit, if you were to ask me last May if we would have a vaccine within the year, I probably would have laughed in your face. However, thanks to the advancements in science, and some very diligent and brilliant scientists, we have a pathway before us to a life not tainted by the fear of COVID-19. 

During this Eastertide we are called to live into the resurrection life. We are called to claim life and the abundant life Jesus offers His followers. This year, this invitation takes on a deeper, richer, and more profound meaning. Having gone through a year of lockdown and shelter in place, it is amazing that we are coming out of our solitude and sequestration just in time to celebrate Easter. Jesus, having been three days dead in the tomb, is raised to new life — and not just His new life, but a new existence for all of creation. For us who have lived through the last year, when life was turned completely upside down, we are emerging from our proverbial tombs into a new way of existence.

So, it baffles me when I hear of, or speak to someone who has not, or refuses to get the vaccination. Just a few days ago, I spoke with a relative in another state who, when asked if he had been vaccinated, simply said, “no.” Of course this response begged the follow-up question, “Why not? Underlying health issues?” To which he replied, “Nope. I’m healthy. I just don’t won’t it.” I didn’t press the issue and just said I thought he should reconsider. After I hung up the phone, I realized what an apt metaphor for those first post-resurrection encounters — and even the post-resurrection encounters of our own time. Some believed and responded with joy and acceptance to the resurrected Christ, and it made all the difference in their lives. Others said it was a load of codswallop, and their rejection made all the difference in their lives. For those who believe, who grasp the meaning of Jesus Christ risen from the dead as the pledge of faith that we too will be raised, life is never the same again. 

As more and more get vaccinated, and fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed and treated, we very well may see a return to normalcy. However, I’m sure I’ll look back on the Easter of 2021 with a whole new appreciation of new life. I just pray that life from here on will be truly abundant and joyous. 

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 757-562-4542.