Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg. I’m one of the pastors at Kenilworth Union Church and this is Douglas, my assistant minister.
In my sermon on Sunday I mentioned this wonderful article from The New York Times Science Section last week by Alan Burdick. It was called “Monster or Machine” and it was about how the coronavirus works.
Mr. Burdick answers his own self-imposed question by saying that the coronavirus is not a monster because it has no agency; it’s just a tiny little machine. Because a virus really is kind of terrifying in its rudimentary simplicity. A virus is nothing more than a packet of information. It cannot move, grow, persist, or perpetuate on its own. It needs a host. All a virus is, is a tiny photocopy machine. All it does is make copies of itself.
And yet this tiny “wisp of data,” as Mr. Burdick refers to the virus, this tiny wisp of data has somehow managed to ground half the world’s commercial airliners; double the stock price of Zoom; postpone the seasons of the NBA and Major League Baseball and all political conventions, and the premieres of the next Black Widow, Spiderman, and James Bond films. Wild boars roam the streets of Barcelona.
But that’s not all the coronavirus has done. It has also somehow managed to mobilize the entire human race in the vastest collaborative effort in the history of our species.
And so all around the world, thousands of scientists are on a mad hunt for a vaccine, despite international borders and ideological differences, they will find this vaccine. And medical workers around the world are heroically caring for the sick at great risk to themselves. And essential workers are stocking shelves and delivering staples to our doors.
And the rest of us, we help by staying home, wearing masks, buying groceries for our frail neighbors, cheering each other up on Zoom, and sending condolences to the heartbroken.
A recent study estimated that our sheltering in place together has prevented 60 million COVID-19 cases in the United States alone. 60 million. And it has prevented 285 million cases in China, which means that together by sheltering in place, we have prevented 800,000 additional deaths in the United States and 3.7 million deaths in China. Together, we have saved more human lives in a shorter amount of time than at any time in the history of our species. And I think this is such good news.
You know, there’s no reason to think of the twin traumas of coronavirus and George Floyd’s untimely death than as the twin traumas that they are, traumas of almost incalculable magnitude. And so we don’t pretend that they’re anything else. I don’t want to dress them up in pretty clothes or put false mental makeup on them.
And yet, I want to have this little micro-celebration with you and to name it like that, to name what we have done together on both fronts, this huge collaborative effort.
You know those aerial photographs of those thousands upon thousands of Americans marching in every major American city in protest against the unjust death of George Floyd? They are black and white, they are every color in between, together they’re all saying black lives matter and need to matter more. We’re doing that together and we’re sheltering in place together, to prevent unnecessary death. To say that human life is precious.
And you know, we’re going to have our squabbles about what sheltering in place should mean and how long it should last. We’re going to squabble over the proper response to Mr. Floyd’s unjust death. But we’ve cooperated together and we’re learning so much more, and the next time we have to go through either of these things, we will fail so much better.
All of that’s happening globally and gladdening my heart, and closer to home too, right? So, quarantine crushed our rummage sale this year. And our Outreach Benefit. But that didn’t stop Peter and Alice Schaff for one second. Maybe you heard that the virtual benefit this year raised $204,366 dollars. I think that is almost miraculous.
When Peter and Alice Schaff came to me and told me that their goal for our virtual benefit this year was going to be the same as our goal during our physical benefit last year, $175,000, I thought they were crazy. Don’t tell them I thought that. I didn’t tell them that because, Lord knows, the world already has enough dream killers. So I didn’t tell them that, but I did think to myself, I never thought they would be able to get $175,000.
And yet, through muscular will and brilliant organization and irresistible charm, Peter and Alice and Chris Cole and their stellar team managed to coax huge generosity out of all of you, and to summon the better angels of your nature. $204,366.
So, around the world, this is a dark and challenging time, no reason to pretend otherwise, but all around the world, these beautiful, wonderful things are happening, all these beautiful, wonderful people, and closer to home too at Kenilworth Union Church, all these beautiful things, and all these wonderful people making them happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and God bless you.