The Leviticus 19 Miracle in the Coronavirus Crisis

"Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:32)

In the midst of the current crisis we are living through, earlier this month there was a remarkable event that we all saw but hardly recognised, because it was eclipsed by the larger story.

All over the world, for more than two weeks, people in many nations practised two-thirds of the words of Leviticus 32:1, when they rose up, figuratively speaking, before the grey-headed (the literal translation of the verse) and honoured the aged.

Granted, in this instance it was for an individual, Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old former army officer who announced on social media that he intended to raise £1,000 for an NHS charity by walking 100 laps of his 25m garden while in self-isolation before his hundredth birthday on 30 April. He wanted to thank the NHS for treatment he had received and, being a military man, likened NHS staff working with Covid-19 patients to being in a battle.

With the aid of a walking frame, Captain Moore completed the challenge in 10-lap chunks well before his birthday, with the First Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment forming a guard of honour for the final stages. The total he has raised is now more than £25 million, with donations and accolades coming from all over the world.

Sitting alongside him in the launch picture on social media was his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, who described herself as his ‘side-kick’ (BBC News, 18 April.)  She said, “We are all speechless. It’s not even two weeks since this started. We are just working our socks off supporting him and this phenomenon.”

Hopefully, his achievement and the affection in which he is held will help to change the ageist attitudes that many still hold towards older people. (Earlier in the crisis, former government scientific adviser Prof Sir David King told the Telegraph that 90-year-olds and above should not go to hospital during the crisis, as they would only be clogging it up [i], ignoring the fact that many older people were, in fact, surviving.)

The focus of the media has been, understandably, on Tom Moore. He is an engaging, warm-hearted man.  But his story is an example of what older people can do when encouraged and supported. He has lived with Hannah and her husband and children since 2008, and his family have been alongside him throughout. 

For older people themselves, it shows that there may be possibilities for them that they have not yet considered. They may not make international headlines but every ‘good work’, from the biggest to the tiniest, is noted by God (e.g. Luke 21:1-4).

One of the exciting developments in the church at the moment is generations coming together in special interest groups that are often initiated by older members. Hopefully, Captain Moore's story will inspire them and encourage leaders to support them in this.

Louise Morse


Louise Morse has published several books about old age (Lion, Monarch and SPCK), contributes to Christian media and is a speaker at Christian events and to faith groups and churches. She is also Media and External Relations Manager with the Pilgrims’ Friend Society.




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