Lection Connection

December 27, 2020: Reaffirm, Redeem, Rename

From Paul Turley


Perhaps our reading for this week can remind us that wisdom is a shared enterprise – wisdom grows from our collective thinking, listening, and learning. Perhaps there are no wise individuals, only wise communities.


In first-century Palestine, that wisdom was named Simeon and Anna; two people who had dedicated their lives to seeking truth, a truth that came to them in the midst of their work in the centre of their culture – the temple.


In 21st-century Europe, that wisdom is named Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci two people who have dedicated their lives to seeking truth, a truth that came to them in the midst of their work in the centre of their culture – the lab.


Sahin and Tureci are the directors of BioNTech, the company that, working with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, has developed the first proven vaccine against COVID-19.


BioNTech, a German company, has shown in phase 3 trials that their vaccine is 90% effective against the virus. As of this writing, the vaccine is already being administered to people in the United Kingdom and is about to be administered to people in Canada and the United States.


This married couple, who began their company in 2008, are both children of Turkish migrants who moved to Germany in the late 1960s. The couple met at university and have been married since 2002. They have spent their careers in cancer research and, reading early news of the pandemic coming out of China, recognized that there was, as Sahin put it, a “small step” from the anti-cancer mRNA drugs on which they were working to mRNA-based viral vaccines.


Wisdom, in this case, is truly a shared project. Sahin and Tureci assigned 500 of their staff to work on the project and then formed a partnership with Pfizer. Pfizer is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and has expertise with mass-market vaccines.


After receiving the news that their vaccine had received approval, Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, and and Tureci, its chief medical officer, “celebrated a little.”


“My wife and I sat down,” Sahin said, “talked to each other and made cups of tea. The relief was a very good feeling.”


Explore…Luke 2:22–40

  • How did Anna and Simeon recognize the infant Jesus as God’s chosen?
  • What do you think Simeon meant with his words, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too”?
  • What might it mean for us today?



God of all time and history, our small lives are over and done in a flash and we barely perceive the great sweep of your story through our stories. May we today, at the end of another year, pause, search for a deeper understanding of the year passed, and together seek your wisdom for the year ahead. Amen.


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