In this volume, scholars have gone to many different historical and contemporary places to draw strength, wisdom and knowledge to help us in this crisis. Some authors draw on theology. Taking up the image on the internet of Christ’s dead body being cradled by health professionals in protective gear, Steve Taylor invites us to think about the body of Christ; not only Christ’s physical body, but us as the church, and how we can be with others as this time of pain. Andrew Shepherd reflects on the parallels between the pandemic and Noah and the flood (Gen 6—9). He advocates for lives of greater simplicity and care for our non-human neighbours.
Phil Church also takes up an ecological theme, asking what sort of people we want to be in the new normal after COVID-19. He looks at this in the light of Steven Bouma-Prediger’s book “Earthkeeping and Character.” Myk Habets draws on the doctrine of God’s providence and goodness as a help during these troubled times, and education lecturer Sam Burrows invites us to find hope in the story of Christ. Philippa Isom, also writing in the field of education, asks how, in this time of radical shifts in educational pedagogy, education itself can be configured to grow Māori participation and flourishing.
Two authors draw on history. Robyn Wrigley-Carr explores British theologian Evelyn Underhill, who in World War II created a small prayer group to pray for world leaders, which she termed her “spiritual war-work.” We also travel to seventeenth century London to hear about the experience of a London pastor, during the 1665 plague. Ian Maddock’s article explores the pastor’s response in choosing to stay and minister to a remnant of his flock.
Other writers have found particular bible passages from which to draw comfort and knowledge. Mark Keown explores the COVID-19 pandemic through themes of suffering and hope from Romans 8:18—39. Francis Otobo reflects on how the church can worship without meeting in buildings, drawing on, among other passages, Jesus’ meeting with the woman of Samaria. William Loader points us to the parable of the Good Samaritan, and invites us to imagine what position we take in the parable, and in the modern world where we are called to embrace the common humanity of those both near and distant. Finally, Nick List looks for solidarity in the book of Job.
Interleaved between the articles we have two poems. One, a poem from Yael Klangwisan, ‘found’ from an article by Leonie Hayden, reflects the strangeness of our times. In the other poem, Wendy Hansen writes of the way in which she, as a mother, embraces the journey. And we also have yet another episode from the life (or after-life) of St Imulus.
We hope you mind find something that resonates with you in this volume; to strengthen you on the journey.
The Stimulus Team:
Sarah Penwarden, Mark Keown and Fiona Sherwin