What have we learned?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. — Prov. 1:5-7


This has been an unusually tumultuous year. One commentator noted that 2020 appears to be the offspring of 1918 (Spanish Flu), 1929 (Great Depression) and 1968 (riots and civil unrest). I would like to add 1917 (Russian Revolution) and 1984 (George Orwell’s book).


What have we learned? Christians, like most Americans, were willing to shelter in place and work from home, when able, rather than spread the COVID-19 virus. Churches complied and were limited to online or parking-lot services. Many people would not receive the Lord’s Supper for three or more months. We have learned that worship, the Divine Service, is all about receiving God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament. 


“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” — Matt. 4:4 


There has been a hunger and thirst for the services of God’s house and reception of His gifts.


Medically, the shelter-in-place order worked at “flattening the curve” of the epidemic. Hospitals were not overwhelmed. Those who needed treatment received it. The feared shortage of ICU beds and ventilators has not happened. We also received conflicting medical advice. Initially we were told that masks were useless, even dangerous to the wearer. Then we were told that one needed to wear a mask to protect others from germs. 

COVID–19 is a serious virus. Members of Southern Illinois District congregations have died from it. Several of our people had it and recovered. Will there be another wave this fall, or have we seen the worst? In Illinois, the goal posts have shifted from “flattening the curve” to continuing restrictions until a vaccine is found and the number of cases and deaths declines substantially. We may not see “full recovery” for another 12 to 18 months. What will this mean for our Southern Illinois District convention in February 2021?


Economically, over 20 million Americans lost their jobs due to the closings and restrictions on businesses. It was the gravest hit on the economy since 1929. Many have yet to return to work, while some are doing so slowly. People have learned that they can work from home and still get the job done. What does this mean for the future?


In May, George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, needlessly died at the hands of a white police officer. Civil unrest broke out across the nation. I remember well the riots of 1967 in Detroit and those a year later following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. All lives matter. Black lives matter. Brown, yellow, red and white lives matter. The same Lord is the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of humanity. Heaven itself is “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’ ” (Rev. 7:9-10).

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Rev. Timothy Scharr

District President 

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