We have coronas everywhere. Everyone loves them, but no one wants a particular corona — the virus that’s the cause of the 2020 pandemic.
“Corona” has a simple meaning. It’s Latin for “crown,” and the Latins got it from the Greeks. (Korōnē in the Greek, means “garland,” or “wreath.”) In this Christmas season lots of us are hanging coronas, or wreaths, on our front doors. If this were another time, maybe we’d be using some sort of wreath to mark homes as quarantined. Instead, wreaths are a festive symbol of welcome and a sign we’re ready to celebrate.
It’s a little odd then that we call this deadly virus the “Coronavirus.” It’s not the only virus that has a crown surrounding it — little spikelet protrusions that give it stickiness so the virus clings to our respiratory linings. Lots of viruses wear crowns, thus, we have a big line-up of coronaviruses. But one has a name we dread — COronaVIrus Disease-19, or Covid-19.
Let’s not allow Covid-19 to transform whole idea of a corona, or a crown, into something negative, because every other corona or crown I know of is a good thing. Does Burger King still give cardboard coronas? Major League Baseball still gives the “batting corona” to the player with the highest batting average. I know we still get crowns for our teeth, because that’s another corona the year 2020 brought me. We still crown Homecoming Queens at our football games, Dairy Princesses at our county fairs, and Miss America. They all get a corona. And I wonder how the Corona Beer brand is faring through all this. (I hope people aren’t using it to inoculate themselves.)
The center our solar system, the sun, has a corona, so it’s no wonder the whole idea of worthiness attaches to a crown. The person we celebrate at Christmas certainly is worthy, our Lord Jesus Christ. Artistic depictions often show a type of corona, around the baby Jesus. He is worthy, and was worthy, from the moment of his birth into time and outside of time. Christmas really is a reason to celebrate, and it really is a reason to remember the One we should crown
with many crowns.
Christmas is a much tougher season than it should be, but we’ve made it that way. The pressure to buy gifts, the desire to decorate our homes to perfection, the temptation in 2020 to party like it’s 2019 (I had to throw that in) can make the season a time of joy, but a time of depression for some. I wonder if we could all do a little to make Christmas less depressing for all.
I haven’t seen the Salvation Army bell ringers yet. Certainly fewer of them are out this year, but that can’t stop anyone from making a donation to their local Salvation Army. The SA is not only a charity, it’s a church that worships Christ. You probably can’t find a more effective charity nor a church more balanced in meeting the needs of bodies and souls in Christ’s name. The Salvation Army has installations in Jamestown, Warren, and throughout the region. Find a local address, make a contribution, and pray for their work. What they do really is a crowning blessing in countless lives.
The Salvation Army is not the only local charity that’s doing good work, and not the only one that is doing it in the name of Jesus. The Jamestown City Mission comes to mind. It’s part of the United Christian Advocacy Network (UCAN), and is treating men with the dignity they deserve, figuratively putting a crown on each one’s head. Their slogan truly describes what they do:
“Offering Hope. Transforming Lives.” Certainly this time of pandemic disease impacts their work, so make a call and ask if there’s anything you can do to help place a crown on the men the City Mission serves.
I don’t want to suggest people living in nursing homes are forgotten, but I’m keenly aware of the isolation there because my dad is a resident of one. While ways of interacting with these people are virtually non-existent, you can still do something. Call the activities department of a local nursing home and ask what you can do. One idea is to send Christmas cards that can be given to anyone. The activities people will know who can benefit most from a card sent with love to residents who don’t get much mail. You can also send donations to help finance Christmas parties for residents and pay for gifts like toiletries, calendars, lap blankets — the kinds of things anyone can use. That can take the load off employees, because at the home where my father lives I know employees contribute a lot from their own pockets. Put a crown on the heads of local nursing home residents by letting them know they’re not forgotten. That might be especially valuable right now when families themselves are so limited in what they can do.
And let’s not forget our local merchants. Right now, some retailers are thriving while others are barely staying in business. While we’re motivated to do our Christmas shopping online and from catalogs during this time, realize what a big hurt that puts on local businesses. So make a list of some local businesses and take some time to browse them. Whatever you look at, think “Who would appreciate that?” Make a few purchases. People like pastors and others who serve in the community may not need your gift as much as they need to know your thoughtfulness. So make it a point to do some of your Christmas shopping locally, even if you spend just one afternoon browsing these stores.
Restaurants especially are suffering. Even if they work in a big national chain, wait staffs are local workers. Call a couple of your favorite places and ask what their hours and their limitations are, and make a reservation. Few people realize that restaurant workers are on the front lines. Think of the number of people a waiter has contact with and you’ll understand the need. And tip generously. If 15% is your usual, raise it to 20. If 20% is your standard, bump it up to 25. Going prepared with a small Christmas card with the money tucked inside would make a difference in your waiter’s or waitress’s life.
I started out by saying “We have coronas everywhere.” So let’s make more. Let’s transform the season from one of depression and worry to one of encouragement and uplift. Let’s put a corona on the head of everyone we meet by offering a smile and a word of thanks for their service. It costs nothing, but it will make a difference in someone else’s life and make your Christmas a little merrier and a little brighter. Let’s give ourselves a corona Christmas, in the name of the one who is the Light of the World.