Considering all that is happening around us and in us these days, my colleague, Steve Garnaas-Holmes from St. Matthew’s UMC in Acton offers this reflection.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. —2 Corinthians 13.5
How do you live through the siege? Whether it is climate change, police brutality, a viral pandemic or 400 years of white supremacy, how do you live faithfully when there is sickness and evil around you?
First, examine yourself. Keep paying attention. Before you judge others test yourself. The only person you can control is you, so do so. What are your basic values? Do you apply them to yourself and others equally? See that they are foundational values, not just self-benefiting wishes. (Here’s the test: Will you—do you—sacrifice to confer the benefits of your values on others?) What is the world you hope to live in? Live in it. Follow its rules. Demonstrate its value. Be light.
Serve each other. Let every action be for the sake of the wholeness of all, not merely your own advantage. Let compassion guide you. Love.
Bear witness. Be transparent. Do not hide your sorrow or your rage. They are part of your power to care. Don’t silence yourself if you are grieving while others are happy, or joyful when others despair. Honor your heart. Don’t whine; don’t spend energy wishing for what is not; don’t blame or judge. But give your broken heart freedom to speak its truth, to sing its song. Start the conversation: not the bitch session, but the dialogue about where to go next, what we can do. We can.
Protect the vulnerable. As the Bible says, “care for the widows and orphans:” for those most at risk, marginalized, or disenfranchised. We are all part of one whole; you are not whole unless your neighbor is. Check yourself when you want to defend your own comfort at another’s expense. Tend to one another. Belong to the whole.
Disrupt. Interrupt your own participation systems that perpetuate harm or injustice. Whether you would transmit racism, plastic waste or a coronavirus, seek ways to stop the spread. Break the cycle. Practice a new way of living. Do justice.
Hope. Hope is not wishful thinking but trust in what is unseen. God’s grace is at work in ways we can’t know. Notice the signs, small and great. Stay in touch with others who care and keep each other’s vision alive. Shield your joy. Practice gratitude. Seek healing. Set the burden of your dread or despair or guilt in the hands of the Gentle One who heals, who radiates blessing, who even now is creating life. We do not know the end; but we know the journey of life is full of grace. Walk it.
You can’t save the world, but you can bless it. Do justice; love mercy; walk humbly with God. Trust God, and work like hell. You are not alone.