Patrick Taylor Highlands Mayor
The great Martin Luther wrote a letter to the faithful during the outbreak of bubonic plague in 1527. He had chosen not to flee Wittenberg where he taught at the university, but rather to stay and minister to others. Below is a portion of the letter which has been circulated on the internet in recent days. It seems to strike a cord as we deal with the spread of COVID.
Luther wrote: “Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body? You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” Luther’s Works, 1999.
The Highlands Cashiers Vaccination Initiative put on a vaccine clinic this past Saturday for people with compromised immune systems needing a third booster shot. Volunteers also vaccinated people who were getting their first vaccine shot. I am so thankful for those folks stepping forward to be vaccinated even though they may still have concerns.
I am also grateful for the wonderful volunteers that put on the clinic. They embody that spirit of ministry and grace that Luther lived and practiced as the leader of the Reformation.
The town board reinstated the mask requirement in business zones at a special meeting last Friday. It applies to both inside and outside activities. Tom Neal, the CEO of the hospital and director of the vaccination initiative, presented a compelling case to the return of wearing masks without delay. He stressed that our community is in an emergency code red zone with the spread of Covid. Our medical and first responder systems are being challenged.
Let’s embrace the grace and concern for others that Luther practiced.
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