The Seventh Sunday of Easter

Charlotte made some face masks this week. Ostensibly for me in case I was called to the hospital during the week but, of course, they could be for her. We don’t know what the ruling will be in the future regarding them as people mingle more and more. I find myself ambivalent about them. I think I’m instinctively anti-masks from my work point of view – faces are important! – but I accept the truth that there is an airborne virus around for which we have no vaccine. I accept the science regarding the virus and so masks come into the discussion. And having heard the science available I have concluded that the mask won’t stop me catching the virus but it may slow my sharing the virus – especially if I am an asymptomatic carrier. So I will take a mask – each in its own clean little plastic bag – and try and use it correctly – to help physically or psychologically those around me.

However by the time you read this, I may have changed my mind! Or I may have become more resolute and no longer personally ambivalent about masks. Why? Because the science may have been updated. That’s the way of science – it is a way of looking at the world, it is a body of knowledge, that has its own processes to understand something – checking and rechecking an ‘hypothesis’ in controlled experiments to produce ‘theories’ that if replicated all the time we call ‘facts’. Science explains the ‘how’ of something. I like its scepticism. My mother was a botanist and I remember her explaining to me that there are no ‘sacred cows’ in science – not really – and everything can be challenged and what emerges are the explanations – the knowledge – that can’t be disproved … yet. As a discipline we can learn a lot from science.

I heard a quip the other day that when science and politics are mixed what you get is politics. I did smile. In these past few decades with the rise of postmodernism – the rejection of absolutes and objective truth – and the cries against experts, science, I think, has fared quite badly.

So has religion. It, too, is a body of knowledge. This knowledge has come about through revelation rather than experimentation but the revelation should be supported – or at least not able to be disproved – by the historical process we use to know anything about the past – anything beyond our personal experience. This knowledge is grounded in people and events that history cannot disprove but is accepted as truth through faith. Thus for believers the ‘faith belief’ is ‘fact’ for them.

And so Christianity teaches and I believe that Jesus is no longer dead. I believe the grave on the third day was empty. Those are ‘facts’ for me which shape my life – as do millions of other facts I accept – and those two facts the world has not been able to disprove. Thus, for followers of Jesus, the revelation of Jesus – and all God’s Word which points to him and conveys him – reveals the why of this world, of me, and of my life now. And now is a COVID-19 world and at a time when Christians are about to leave the Easter season.

I know it is a bit cliché to say that science explains the how and faith the why but, there is a lot of truth there which means that whether I am wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, I am still saying ‘Christ is risen!’. (He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!) The Christian Faith tells me who I am and that God in Christ loves me and that I should serve my neighbour – and science can help me how.

And the Good News of Jesus is good news for everyone! GS