Is the Vaccine a Sacrament?

I’ve been volunteering at COVID vaccination sites these last few weeks, but yesterday, I volunteered alongside someone who has me thinking about the vaccine differently. She was vaccinating people, and I was disinfecting clipboards But just a little over a year ago (before the virus shut down in-person worship) she was holding the cup, and I was holding the bread, as God’s people gathered around the communion table at the church I served.

We celebrate the sharing of bread and cup as sacraments – a visible sign of God‘s invisible grace – and I can’t help but wonder if it might not be good and fitting to think of the vaccine as another one of those visible signs?

What makes something “sacramental” is always up for debate. Different traditions hold onto as many as seven sacraments (Roman Catholics) while others have none (Baptists have “ordinances” instead of sacraments, and before you roll your eyes remember that they are most likely to have the God-preferred instrument of banjo in worship, you high church heathens). One point of agreement across the traditions, though, is that the sacraments are gifts from God very much rooted in this world, and administered by human hands. The other is that they are special (dare I say, holy) in that they connect us uniquely to God and/or one another.

Kinda sounds like the vaccine to me. Elements provided by God’s creation and refined by human hands. A shot that will allos us to reconnect with one another, and of which I have heard more than one person sincerely utter “Praise God.”

I know some of you are hesitant to get the vaccine out of ethical, religious, and governmental concerns. I’d simply encourage you to think about the possibility that the vaccine is a sacrament and then, if you want to partake. Can you see God’s grace at work in it? For those of you getting your shots soon, maybe it could be a holy moment for you – even at CVS, your doctor’s office, or a mass vaccination site – in which you can give thanks to God, and connect with others in a new way.

When we celebrate communion, and people take the bread and cup, we sometimes say:

The bread of life.

The cup of salvation.

Should we also celebrate:

The vaccine of community?

Of gathering?

Of smiles and hugs?

Deaths surrounded by loved ones?

Birthing rooms visited by families and friends?

Of school graduations?

Of life together?

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