Today was a particularly joyous Sunday as I was able to receive the Lord’s supper, followed later by the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. I wanted to reflect on what it meant for me, for the Christian community I am part of and for those around the world, through the lens of sacrifice.
COVID-19 has been the most disruptive event in many people’s living memory; certainly in mine. The world is still shut down, many are dying and those in power have too often been focused on themselves and their wallets. However, amid this darkness is hope borne out of sacrifice.
Many people have sacrificed their livelihoods, their freedoms and their health for the sake of those around them. We have shut down entire industries for the sake of protecting those who are most vulnerable. Some healthcare workers have even sacrificed their lives while tending to the sick.
Early on in the pandemic, some leaders prioritised the economy, peddling a utilitarian argument that if some of us die for the economy then the strong will survive and the sacrifice made will be worth it. I remember being appalled by such a sentiment.
Instead, the places that prioritised people first have saved many lives as well as preserved much of their economy. I am reminded of the verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33. Slowly, this “people first” strategy has won out and many around the world are continuing the work of sacrificing for the sake of others.
As I sat in line at the vaccination centre, I was overcome with joy. I felt part of a worldwide movement that champions people and the tools of science that have been developed to eliminate this virus. Here we were, slightly frightened by the temporary pain of the needle and by possible side effects or allergic reactions. But we all sat there together, joined by others doing the same all around the world, collectively saying no to COVID-19.
A cynic may propose that most people are only getting vaccinated for selfish reasons, but as I sat there I felt something more powerful – a drive that transcended my concern for my own protection; that together we were going to overcome this virus and stop people from dying unnecessarily.
This sentiment was mirrored in the church service I attended. A sermon on 1 Corinthians 2 reminded us of our weakness; that we must accept the sacrifice that God purchased for us on the cross and not become defensive as we face opposition from an increasingly secular world.
We prayed and asked that vaccination around the world would be swift and that countries would share their vaccines with those who do not have our resources and privilege.
Finally, we came to communion to remember the sacrifice that God made for us on the cross. We recalled how we have fallen short of God’s plan for our lives and we repented of prioritising ourselves over others. Then as we sat in our rows, as I would later do at the vaccination centre, and took the bread and the wine together we said no to sin and death and yes to grace and life.
Tomorrow, when I may experience the side effects of the vaccine, I may not be as joyous as I am now. However, there will still be a resolve that we see mirrored in the cross. That “no one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” May communion and vaccination continue to remind us of this sacrifice.