It helps to know that for thousands of years, our globe has endured pandemics — diseases over a whole country or the world — and survived.

The website has a feature listing the history’s major pandemics. For example, the globe’s fourth recorded pandemic was the Justinian Plague in 541 A.D. The editors write:

“First appearing in Egypt, the Justinian plague spread through Palestine and the Byzantine Empire, and then throughout the Mediterranean.

“The plague changed the course of the empire, squelching Emperor Justinian’s plans to bring the Roman Empire back together and causing massive economic struggle. It is also credited with creating an apocalyptic atmosphere that spurred the rapid spread of Christianity.

“Recurrences over the next two centuries eventually killed about 50 million people, 26% of the world population. It is believed to be the first significant appearance of the bubonic plague, which features enlarged lymphatic gland and is carried by rats and spread by fleas.”

In the Immanuel Lutheran Church, Avilla, newsletter for April, the Rev. Patrick Kuhlman took us back to the year 1527 when the bubonic plague was passing through Europe again. The plague struck Wittenberg, Germany, where the Rev. Martin Luther lived, and Silesia, where friends lived.

Silesia was a region of Central Europe located mostly in modern Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany.

In those days, when the plague struck, the wealthy would often flee to the countryside.

This is what Luther wrote from Wittenberg to his friend, the Rev. Dr. John Hess, in Silesia: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Readers, if your church is sharing sermons or videos online, please email me with the website. I will add links to church websites to this column online at

Grace Housholder is a columnist and editorial writer for this newspaper. Contact her at Her husband is Terry Housholder. Two of his great-great-great grandparents were among the founders of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Avilla.

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