2020: Year of Crisis becomes a Blessing.
At this time last year I had lots of plans for 2020. My New Years resolutions included spending more time with my family, praying more, taking time to just “be” with God, and truly listening to what God is saying. They were just were never going to happen. Why? Because my life (like yours) is held captive by systems and forces that stop us from living out our deeply held beliefs.
These forces prevent the kingdom of God from being more fully realized in our world. Systemic in nature, these forces prevent you and me from being God’s agents of change. They stop our church from being the countercultural force it was always intended to be. The problem is deep. It is gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail. We desperately need something that will shake us; we need “some kind of cosmic discontent” that will stir our hearts and minds to be God’s people.
In 2020 we received a gift. The world was hit with a force so strong, so imperative that it couldn’t be ignored. Some fought against the change that COVID-19 threw at us and looked for a quick return to “life the way it was.” Others began asking, “what can we learn from this?” What does my reaction to the crisis reveal about my heart. How does God want to reshape my thinking, my living, my being?
This is the most important moment in our history since at least the Second World War, because it is giving us the opportunity to stop, look and listen to what God is saying.
In the Book of Common Prayer we confess to God that, “We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, We have offended against thy holy laws, We have left undone those things that we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, And there is no health in us.”
Every organization has words that eventually become stereotypes and even clichés. The words of confession are like that . But they are not just nice things to say to earn points on God’s Baptism Loyalty Card so that one day they will get into heaven. They are a call to keep us from accepting the madness of a world that offers systemic racial discrimination, ghettos of poverty and pain, repression, violent destruction of our planet, and violence against the powerless. These are all things humankind must put an end to, or they will put an end to humankind.
You and I, and our Church need to become (to use Martin Luther King Jr.’s phrase), “creatively maladjusted”. Become as creatively maladjusted to violence, hate, racial discrimination, poverty, oppression, and evil as was the prophet Amos, who cried out for a new way of living, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).
2021 New Year Resolutions? Make just one. Everyday, ask God, though the words of the confession to make you “creatively maladjusted” to what is wrong with your life and with the world. And then cry out to become all that God has called you to be: Light in the darkness, Love in the pain, the Presence of Jesus in the world where you live.
- Rev. Howard