We’ve experienced a recent blossoming of active COVID cases around us amongst friends and co-workers. One of our younger (@ 32?) pastors (a young mother of two) was stricken following her flight to Seattle to see family late last month. She said it was the scariest time of her life and with multiple symptoms she thought she was going to die. Thankfully, she survived. Sandy has been doing counseling once weekly at the county jail via Zoom, and the head nurse there had been pressuring her to come in person to do the counseling. Turns out that Sandy learned today from a more trustworthy jail employee of several jail staff testing positive, plus an inmate with COVID in quarantine added to the fact that dozens of inmates refused to be tested. One of Sandy’s counselor coworker’s daughter and infant child now has COVID. Sandy hasn’t done face to face counseling in months except outdoors or in special, safer circumstances. The few holiday gatherings of friends, family and coworkers tentatively scheduled weeks or months ago have been cancelled by them or us. We’ll miss the fellowship, but it’s just one year out of many, and we maintain contact in other ways. We often don’t know who or what to trust or believe about the pandemic, especially given asymptomatic spread possibilities, so we’ve found it best to err on the side of prudence. We’ve found wisdom and comfort in Christ’s words to his disciples to “be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Not always appreciating the wisdom of serpents, I know enough of their ways to know that they tend to retreat from dangerous situations and will only stand their ground if threatened. And, equally important, “Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10). “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). To paraphrase, Christ told his disciples to be loving, but don’t be reckless!