This weekend found me preparing for, anticipating, and attending the Christian Sacrament of Christening for my granddaughter.
The Presbyterian Church where it was preformed was consecrated in the late 1700's, serving the rural plantation and farming gentry of the community that resided on the island. It is large for what was then, and still mostly is, a rural church, elegantly austere, proudly conservative and traditional. It is also furnished with the most uncomfortable pews I have ever had reason to sit in for an hour and a half.
As I sat there, contemplating the sanctity of the occasion, I could not help but remember the previous three times that found me in attendance; the funeral of the young lady who was to be the Matron of Honor at my son's wedding, my son's wedding, and the funeral of my son's first born, lost to us before drawing his first breath. Occasions of great joy or deep sadness, each marked with a profoundly meaningful sacrament.
Whilst I am not a congregant I know many of the members, so I feel somewhat like a distant cousin, but still a member of this close-knit family. I know the importance of their faith and the expression of it in their lives.
Looking around at all the familiar faces my thoughts naturally wandered to pandemic issues and how they, specifically, would fare. People that have intertwined with my life for all these many years now, people that I care about; people that have helped me celebrate and mourn, people that participated in important spiritual sacraments and rituals marking life changing events.
During a moderate to severe pandemic our gatherings for worship and religious sacraments will be either voluntarily or compulsorily closed. During the very time that we will need to draw upon the strength that our rituals impart they will be unavailable.
Physical preparation for a pandemic is of paramount importance, as our very lives, and the lives of those we love and treasure may depend on how well we are physically prepared. The religious communities have been grossly, dare I say sinfully, negligent in getting the potential threat and preparedness message out.
One is left assuming they do not espouse the physical preparations because they have not "bought into" the reality of the potential threat. Conferences of Religious Leaders have been held where the threat of a possible severe pandemic has been specifically addressed, ignorance is not the reason.
If the religious leaders have not bought into the PanFlu threat how can they prepare to meet the spiritual needs of their memberships? Simple answer: They can't.
I have marked my running agenda to contact the minister of my son and daughter-in-law's church, the church that plays such a central role in their lives, the church that celebrates and performs the important rituals so meaningful to so many. I will take my message of PanFlu preparations, physical and spiritual to him, a man who takes shepherding his flock with seriousness and singularly focused dedication.
As I write this I am reminded of Jesus' own words: Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.