Pew Sermon for Sunday 17th October

Hello again everyone.

How do you feel about getting a covid ‘jab’ – or booster – this winter? And what about a ‘flu jab?

Many people in the Dunsfold and Hascombe congregations are (I suspect) in the risk categories for these nasty diseases, whether through older age, or illness, or infirmity, or other underlying health condition. And so, you may well have a strong view that getting vaccinated is a good thing, and a blessing.

Others – I suspect a minority – feel that any intrusion into their free will and personal choices is to be avoided at all costs.

One of my wife’s close circle of friends won’t have the covid jab, and this has caused difficulties with that particular friendship group.

Personal choice and independence from state control on the one hand – or personal and public safety on the other – which way does the Christian jump?

For many years I used to go down to Tesco’s in Guildford and pay for my winter ‘flu jab. It was £8 when I stared, and eventually it went up to £12. I got to know the lady in the pharmacy quite well. But she told me that there were not huge numbers queueing up to do the same.

Imagine my excitement at finally reaching 66 years and qualifying for a free flu jab after all this time! Which I have just had. Only to be told in the news that about 40 million people – including all over 50’s – will be offered a free jab this winter. By my reckoning, I am at least 16 years x £8 to £12 out of pocket!

I suppose in the end we can only ‘follow the science’ as they say these days. If the vast majority of health folks and the scientists say these protections keep us and others safe, then it’s good enough for me.

When I was a young man, there were similar controversies with putting fluoride in the water and introducing the compulsory wearing of seatbelts. It seemed to me to be the same issue. Some said no – personal freedom and choice. And used their ‘I know better’ knowledge to deny the advice of the majority, or of the State. Others said ‘yes’ – why on earth would personal choice trump the need to keep yourself and others safe?

Standing up against the majority, of course, is sometimes the right and courageous thing to do. Women suffragettes (UK) and black civil rights (US) immediately spring to mind as historical examples. So, the issue – it seems to me – is to choose the ground on which we are to fight carefully. If it is Bible based – we might well be in the right. If, however, it’s all to do my rights, my choices, my freedoms, then it’s much harder, if not impossible, to make a Bible case for taking a stance against the advice of people who understand the science better than most of us.

I have been double jabbed for Covid ages ago, and recently flu jabbed. I hope to get a booster when it is offered. I thank God for the scientists and the health care workers, and for the State who made this an organisational and spending priority. So that I can save my £12. 

I won’t get Tesco points this year. But I think I did the right thing. If you agree – or disagree – let me know. Because respectful debate, and mutual respect is probably the only way to resolve these differences.May God keep us all safe at this time.