I heard a story once about a time when the city line was just beyond the church along El Cajon Blvd. The story was about how the San Diego city fire trucks stopped out in front of the church a block short of a raging fire. The firemen got out of their trucks, and watched the building burn to the ground. They didn’t put out the fire because it was just over the city line, and at the time the rules were different, fire and police departments took care of their own, and were barred from helping others.
Today, we would be up in arms, as people eventually were back then, if a fire engine just stopped and watched a fire burn, or a police officer just stopped and watched a crime happen, because it was, “not my jurisdiction.” In fact, the collaboration and organization is to the extent that everyone everywhere only needs to call a single number to get help in any emergency. 911 is a number that every elementary school student it taught. A single, simple, central system is in place that is guaranteed to bring help.
It seems crazy to me that getting medical attention and care isn’t the same. The fire department comes out every year to inspect our church and make sure that we don’t have any potential problems and to keep our facility healthy and safe. Yet several of our own church members can’t get a health check-up, because they can’t afford health insurance. Half of our staff could pay their entire yearly salary and still not be able to afford health insurance.
I did some calculations and was shocked at what I found. If my family was not covered by the health insurance plan available through Jennifer’s work, the health insurance plan the United Methodist Church provides would cost the church an additional amount equal to our Youth Director’s full year salary plus our entire children’s ministry budget combined. That’s in addition to the amount we are currently paying for getting the insurance through Jennifer’s work. This amounts to more than double the amount of money for exactly the same coverage
We may have very different ideas about how to solve the problem, but solve the problem we must. Our current system is immoral, and un-Christian. The Bible is very clear about our requirement to take care of our neighbors, and the poor, and the widows. While we may quote a verse here and there to try and support our current situation, there are over 300 verses about God’s concern for the poor and justice. How can we profess to “Love our neighbors” and at the same time support a system that provides us with care and our neighbors with nothing but bankruptcy, chronic untreated conditions, and a sense of deep despair and hopelessness.
The rules are simple: Do no harm, Do good, Stay in love with God; but living them out takes courage, risk, and a deep sense of God’s presence. Please join me in keeping the debate over health care reform in your daily prayers. Keep in prayer also the people of our own congregation and throughout the country who are at risk and most vulnerable.