Lection Connection

April 18, 2021: We Are Witnesses

From Sandra Rooney


In today’s world, every day the media make us “eye-witnesses” to all manner of tragedies, catastrophes, and disasters everywhere. We look over the shoulder of reporters on the scene. But are we not often more moved when we are eyewitnesses to the compassionate response of others on the scene than the images of devastation and pain? Here is such a story, brought to us by John Yang on PBS NewsHour.


President Biden has set high expectations for public vaccinations in the United States. While more than one in five Americans has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, in many parts of the country, people who are eligible are still struggling to get vaccinated. Volunteers are stepping in to help.


There’s Mansi Shah. She works full time but makes calls and scours the Internet early in the morning and late at night, when appointment spots are made available. “If I’m not working, if I’m not sleeping, I’m doing this,” she says. She started by helping her parents. Her mother doesn’t speak English and she describes her dad as “not the most tech-savvy.” Now she’s helping complete strangers. She says it’s their stories that touched her. Like Harriet, 93 years old and desperately needing help to get an appointment. Often when Shah is calling, the response is “no appointments, totally booked,” even for seniors over 65. But she persists.


It’s estimated that some 25 million Americans don’t have Internet access for online registration. That’s where Shah and other volunteers come in. She says stories like Harriet’s are what keep her up late at night and wake her in the morning in time to catch appointment slots as they become available.


Then there’s Michaelene Carlton, mother of two, currently on disability because she is still struggling with her COVID symptoms a year later – symptoms that include daily headaches, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. She has free time now due to those complications and says she doesn’t want others to have to experience what she has. “This is a way that I can help others,” she says.


Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth Decker is part of a group of ninth graders who have secured more than 600 appointments for New Jersey residents. They use social media, Facebook groups, Twitter drops, anywhere that offers advice, to search for drops, the times when appointments become available. “It just takes time. They do go out quickly. It’s frustrating, but it’s so rewarding in the end,” she says.


Mark Meeks, pastor of City Church of Sacramento, has teamed up with UC Davis Health to get people vaccinated. Members are going person-to-person to find folks who need help. His church hosts a weekly vaccination clinic. “People feel overwhelmed with the task, and they don’t know where to go.” No one knows when this is going to end, he says, so he just keeps telling his faith community they need to stay faithful to the task.


Explore… Luke 24:36b–48

  • How did the disciples understand their call, in response to feeling Jesus’ presence with them?
  • When have you had an encounter that moved you to action?
  • When have you felt the need to take on what seemed like an impossible task? What about your faith community?



Open our eyes and our hearts both to see and respond in the face of pain, loss, and injustice. May we be not merely followers, but those who step up to offer compassion and to do the hard work of seeking justice. Amen.


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