Take Your Shot Update

During the second week of 2021, one of my friends died from COVID-19. He went home for Christmas and Covid then claimed his life. Phil is fine, he is with the Lord Jesus that he served for all his adult life. But his wife and children have been left to grieve their loss. They now face a staggering mountain of medical bills. Phil is only one of the almost 600,000 lives and counting that have been claimed by this pandemic in the USA alone. We do well to realize that over 32,000,000 people have been infected. Each infection creates pockets of stress making this pandemic almost unbearable for many families.

The week after my friend died I experienced a glimmer of hope — injected into my left arm. At 6:30pm on January 13th I received the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Fifteen minutes later I was on my way home.

Since this vaccine received emergency authorization on Dec. 11th, I had been anticipating getting this shot like a child waiting to open their Christmas gifts. Finally there was a light at the end of the tunnel! I could anticipate the time when I shed my fear of contracting this lethal virus enough to actually hug my daughters and their families! On my doctors orders, I cut myself off from virtually all human contact except for the loving touches and hugs of my wife Sheila (for whom I am now even more grateful!). When my friend Charles alerted me that Piedmont Athens Hospital was emailing vaccination invitations to at risk patients, I opened my email inbox and there it was – a link to schedule an appointment.

When my appointment came just three days later, the experience was very much like getting a flu shot. I felt a small prick as the vaccine was injected, then I got a vaccination record card, received instructions on scheduling my 2nd shot in twenty-one days, sat in a chair for fifteen minutes, and it was over. The whole experience was easy, even pleasant.

In the information provided I learned that the vaccine is designed to make the body think coronavirus proteins are invading, thus inducing an immune system attack that can then be remembered and reproduced if the real coronavirus is ever encountered. Because of this, there are a few common side effects: fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and mild fever.

Personally, I experienced nothing but a slight soreness at the injection site for a couple of days. Honestly, It felt no worse than any other hypodermic injection. My experience and my research have convinced me that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe. Both went through rigorous clinical trials and are endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.  

Let me say that again, these vaccines are safe. They do not cause autism. They do not change your DNA. They do not contain “deep state” microchips. They are not part of some nefarious conspiracy. Believe medical experts and scientists, not Q-Anon wackos and all the social media “influencers” fanning the flames of anti-vaccine skepticism.

Yes, as Americans we all have the freedom to choose whether to be vaccinated or not, but your choice might make the difference between the elderly and those at risk staying infection free or struggling to survive a COVID-19 infection! We who are Christians have freedom of choice as well. But we have guidance to help us make good choices. Jesus taught that our first choice is to love the Lord our God with all our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. One choice, not two, love God which is demonstrated by loving our neighbor. When you choose to be vaccinated you are loving your neighbor as yourself. Can the same be said of the choice not to be vaccinated? More people being vaccinated brings more neighbors under our umbrella of protection. If not for yourself, please be vaccinated for your neighbor.

It is now May 2021, but this pandemic is still raging. Health experts warn that more deaths are coming. We should be so grateful for the availability of these vaccines! Consider countries like India. Many nations don’t have enough vaccines! Here in the USA we have plenty of vaccines, but a paucity of people willing to use them! I need you to keep my glimmer of hope alive! Each vaccination is emotionally a shot in the arm for me! Vaccines are available at your local health department, hospital, Doctor, pharmacy or even your grocery store. Getting your shot is a simple a service with a profound impact! Be a good example to your family, friends and your neighbor around the corner and around the world.

The day after my second vaccination, I was a little sorer but a whole lot safer. I was vaccinated for my loved ones and myself. I was vaccinated to “love my neighbor as myself”. I was vaccinated so I can hug my grandsons. I was vaccinated to do my part to help us return to a life without social distancing.

What are you waiting for, go get your shot!  Don’t throw away your chance to show the world “loving your neighbor as yourself” is more than a platitude!


This post is from my friend Jim Musser’s blog

As churches across the nation shut down their physical worship services this morning, many replacing them with livestreaming events, I began imagining what this new reality will look like two or three months from now. Will Christian communities basically become a plethora of TV churches, with everyone sitting in their own homes with their eyes fixated on screens watching the same worship services to which they are accustomed attending in person? The pastors preaching sermons. The worship bands on stages playing songs.

The pandemic we are facing has no comparison to all but literally a few people in the world, those who were infants or toddlers in 1918 when the so-called “Spanish Flu” ravaged the world, infecting over 500 million and killing 20-50 million people. And just as that pandemic was a lifelong marker in the lives of many of our great-grandparents and grandparents, so this one will be a marker for our lives.

The question is, what kind of marker will this leave for us personally and for the Church? For the moment, based on God’s promise in Romans 8:28 to work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose, I want to imagine the good that will come out of this pandemic.

Imagine that Christians, instead of gathering in small groups around their computer or TV screens to watch livestreaming worship services, that they instead gather in homes to sing praises to the Lord, to pray for the world, the nation, their own communities, and for one another, and to read and discuss the Word of God. Perhaps they also enjoy a meal together that includes the Lord’s Supper. (Acts 2:42-47)

Imagine that believers truly humble themselves before the Lord in the face of this pandemic, recognizing that their lives are fragile and not guaranteed. (Psalm 39:4)

Imagine that Christians take an inventory of their priorities in life and move the Lord from the periphery of their lives to the center, making him the driving force rather than merely a side attraction. (John 14:21)

Imagine that Christians in communities, rather than isolating themselves from everyone, seek to serve those who are isolated out of necessity—the elderly and the sick—by bringing them food, household supplies, and medicine, by checking on them and even visiting them for awhile. (Matthew 25:34-36)

Imagine that followers of Jesus, rather than hoarding supplies such as sanitizers, toilet paper, and food, that they would look to share those things with others in need. (II Corinthians 8:13-15)

Imagine that in a time of economic hardship, Christians will be generous toward one another, making sure their brothers and sisters have what they need. (Acts 4:32-35)

Imagine that believers remain full of hope and peace instead of the despair and fear taking hold of the country, because they are confident in the power and love of the Lord. (Romans 8:35-38)

Imagine that Christians in our nation act as the true Church has always acted: loving one another, serving one another, meeting each other’s needs, risking their lives for the sake of serving Jesus, and being a light of hope and peace for the unbelieving world. Imagine believers across our country, rather than being participants in an institution, instead are an integral part of a community who are united in their love for and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine believers once again being the Church.

© Jim Musser 2020