On Monday of Holy Week, I received my second COVID-19 vaccination shot. Timing wasn’t the best, given my profession, but it was when I was assigned. While I suspect I have a good immune system, when I do catch something significant that slows me down, I usually feel it intensely. Approximately 12 hours after being injected, I was faced with extreme chills and nausea; six hours after that, I was in the ER. Yet, I do not regret being vaccinated.
I have missed worshipping communally and giving and receiving hugs and handshakes. Face masks have protected from air particles but have not enabled clarity in discussion. Communion, the central sacrament of worship, was suspended or modified. I missed the normalcy of all pre-COVID.
But greater still, my faith compels me to care for my neighbors. If there is a sacrifice that is in my willpower to do for those in need and I neglect to do it, I feel I am missing the point of Holy Scripture. There are many who can’t get vaccinated, whether because of age, allergy, immune-compromised systems or legitimate religious concerns; my vaccinated body protects them and the sacrifice of a few hours of discomfort ultimately promotes community wholeness.
There are still many on the fence or looking for incentives. My incentive was to my neighbor in need; my action was one of faith. If you choose to get vaccinated, too, let me know and you will be in my prayers for health and thanksgiving.
Rev. Kevin O’Hara
Emanuel Lutheran Church, Pleasantville