Israel quarantines people who have the coronavirus in hotels. One hotel was nicknamed: Hotel Corona.
Israel is one of the world’s most divided nations. But at Hotel Corona everyone lives together: Jew, Palestinian, Arab, Bedouin. They mix together, eat together, do Zoomba together. It’s so extraordinary that Hotel Corona residents began posting about it. Israeli TV picked it up and everyone in Israel began watching peace emerge during A pandemic.
When everyone first gathered for meals, each group sat separately. But eventually, people quit self-segregating and began eating in mixed seating arrangements. One Palestinian said, “We were all shocked. Where’s the prejudice? The racism? The problems? Everyone’s getting along. What’s happening?”
One day an ultra-Orthodox man collapsed. A Palestinian woman ran to signal the medical team. But for them to enter the hotel they had to dress in protective gear.
During that delay, the woman ran back to the man. He wasn’t breathing. So, she started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A Palestinian kept a Jew alive until help arrived. One Jewish nurse said, “You saved him.” Everyone in Israel was stunned. Miracles were happening in Hotel Corona.
But Passover was coming. Passover centers on family. The Seder meal is family-style dining. How could that happen?
But a solution was found. Hotel staff arranged the banquet room with a partition separating the room in two. Several secular Jews thought: “We can’t observe Passover this way.” So, they began dismantling the dividing wall. An ultra-Orthodox Jew walked up and said, “I’ll help.”
And the impossible happened: Hotel Corona’s residents shared Passover together. Muslims ate with Jews on the night God freed everyone from bondage. As images of the Seder meal became public, the nation was astonished. Muslim women in hijabs (head scarves) celebrated Passover with Jewish men wearing yarmulkes (skullcaps). One Jewish participant said, “This is the most beautiful Seder I’ve ever seen. I can’t be with my family. But I’m with my new family now.”
How could something so good come out of something so bad? How can a pandemic produce peace? We should remember: God specializes in turning dead ends into living ways; transforming crucifixions into resurrections; and turning enemies into friends.
That’s what Jesus did. Christ’s death – his end – became our beginning. Through the cross Christ transformed our destiny from the grave to glory. In him we are new creations, joined to Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. We’re his ambassadors for his kingdom.
Today’s news is grim: Covid-19 continues. Our economy is struggling. Racial demonstrations have rocked our nation. But God is bigger than all of this. God will lead us all into life. Since God is leading, our job is following: By acting in reconciling ways to hasten a new day.
Beyond, beneath – and sometimes in – the headlines, God’s good people are working. Healthcare workers risk themselves to keep us alive. God’s healing flows through their care. Economists and elected officials are working to resolve this economic crisis. God is working through them, too. Good cops, community activists, and city councils are working to change policing for good. God is working through them to bring blessing to us all.
This moment feels like the Me, Too Movement did. Tectonic plates are shifting. The world is changing. God is in on that good work.
We’re to join in. We have this ministry of reconciliation. We are kingdom ambassadors to share God’s love so sick neighbors are tended and racial wounds are healed. By grace – with God – and each other – we can do this.
After all, we’re in this together. Martin Luther King said, “We came to America on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” I believe God is steering our boat toward blessing. So get your oar in the water. Love your neighbor. Act with Christ to reconcile, redeem, and renew our world: One choice at a time; one relationship at a time; one step at a time. As we do that, God’s dream will become our vision and a new world will come.