A WORD ABOUT HEALTH
A few days ago, one of my children asked, "Do you know about Ebola?" When I responded that I did know something about it, my child asked, "Are you worried about it?"
I wasn't sure how to answer this second question. To date, the Ebola virus is the culprit in the deaths 4,494 people. It is devastating communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. And, because our world has become so easily navigable, I figured it was only a matter of time before the virus manifested itself here in the United States. There have been eight con
firmed cases of Ebola virus in the US and one person has died.
Given these statistics, I am concerned about the virus. I am especially concerned for those communities that lack adequate health care and sanitation. Nonetheless, I don't stay up at night worried about "catching" Ebola or an imminent Ebola epidemic.
The obesity epidemic in our country is much more concerning to me: the number of people who die from heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease, and stroke is astounding. Likewise, there have been nearly 500 cases (mostly children) of the non-polio Enterovirus D68 since the summer began, with one child succumbing to the virus this month. These things worry me a lot more than Ebola.
Which is why I was shocked when a colleague recently asked, "What are you doing about Ebola?"
What I am NOT doing is advocating any changes in the way we do church. We, as a community, share one bread and one cup. While the common cup may give many germ-a-phobes pause, the truth is we human beings spread a lot more contagion with our hands than with our mouths. Drinking from the same chalice doesn't transmit nearly as many germs as shaking hands.
At the same time, we do live in community and we must take the responsibility seriously. So, as we enter the cold and flu season I invite us all to exercise good stewardship of our community's health with the following:
1) Good hand washing - with soap (or hand sanitizer), front, back and between fingers. This is especially important for those serving at the altar
2) Use of Tissues - for nose wiping, sneezes and coughs (then see #1)
3) Self-protection - consider getting a flu shot; "herd immunity" helps protect everyone
4) Self-Restraint - if you or your children have symptoms (even sniffles) receive in one kind (bread only); this is a full sacrament and protects others.
Our common life together is one of welcome and not fear.