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Lenten Meditation: March 18

Today I received my first Covid 19 vaccination I am obviously grateful for the opportunity. I am in reasonable health, not yet 65, yet I felled out the form on the Saline County Health Department and they emailed to set up an appointment. I encourage everyone to do just that.

I know that there exists skepticism to down right rejection of the vaccine. I do not understand the reluctance, but my lack of understanding does not negate the feelings expressed by those not yet ready to be vaccinated. We should listen to the advice of medical professionals.

But there are those who, around vaccines as well as other subjects, cling to unsubstantiated claims. Their fear is rooted in some believed access to information unknown to medical science or other fact based evidence. Many times, it is in the name of religion that the categories of fact and science are discarded.

According to the gospels, Jesus was consulted on many things. Some of the questions were genuine, such as when the disciples wanted to know how often they needed to forgive a member of the church. Some questions were disingenuous , such as when the Sadducees asked Jesus about the resurrection. What comes to mind regarding the vaccine, and science generally, is the question about taxes. True, the question probably falls into the category of the disingenuous as it was a Pharisee trying to trap him. But Jesus' answer to whether taxes should be paid was and is instructive. Grant unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and grant unto God the things that are God’s.

Science and Religion are not in competition, anymore than a Roman coin is in competition with the human spirit. Each make a contribution to the mystery of our existence. Science is interested in what can be known through empirical research. Religion is interested in what can be known through spirit and revelation. At the heart of each is a true mystery. I have three scientists in my family and each of them would agree that after we exhaust all of our knowledge about the cosmos or the microorganisms we will not have exhausted the mysteries of creation. Religion gives a name to the mystery, a meaning to the pursuit. As a Christian theologian, my interest lies in a realm shared most often by poetry and art and music—that realm that gives a voice to an experience and a way of expressing an inward truth. Ultimately, my subject matter is God and my understanding God is born out of a revealed truth I grasp without ever holding. When the disciples asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God, he replied that it was not a thing that could be seen or held—it lived among them. Its truth was only understood in the strength of human bonds.

If Jesus were approached about the vaccine I think he would say render unto science the things that belong to science and render unto God the things that are God’s. Science is a great gift in all of its manifestations and we owe the scientists a debt of gratitude for providing us with a vaccine.

But the vaccine is also a part of the things that are God’s. My faith tells me that God calls us to love one another—and ourselves. By being vaccinated we are demonstrating both.

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