We are unsettled about public interaction. COVID cases are rising again and we remain disconcerted; the continued potential for outbreak among those we care most about is real.
Wondering About Our Time: Our uncertainties now multiply with each new revelation of demonstrations, responses to those demonstrations, revelations about police tactics and then the social as well as political reactions. These continue to be confusing times. And yet, as I said in June, I believe we can still claim a valid connection to Pentecost and the birth of the church. Those early believers also lived in troubling times. Like us, they struggled with similar anxieties. Decision making lacked clear data, faced considerable opposition, and even among that Christian community, experienced open hostility. Yet the Spirit of God moved among them. Their commitments, however flawed or criticized, became a bulwark of faith and compassion that would literally turn the world upside-down (Or more properly as they would later respond, they were turning the world “right-side up!”). In other words, they were doing the best they could with limited information, working with a faith still in the process of evolving in the direction of Jesus.
Praying That We Might Be Faithful: As often happens in times like these and in times like those: not all agree. Bitter arguments erupt among good people from across the religious and political spectrum. So like the early believers in that early church, we do our best with the data we have and the faith we profess. We step forward, risking that we might be wrong, hoping that we might be right and praying that we will be faithful.
Witnessing God’s Spirit At Work:I believe from what I have experienced firsthand in the multiple demonstrations I have participated in over the last four weeks, in the conversations and planning I have had with local clergy and law enforcement, in the palpable feelings of commitment, hope, compassion, energy and determination among the large crowds, clearly peaceful, and multicultural, something holy is happening. I have been pleasantly surprised and gratified to witness these gatherings in favor of change, often majority white, concerned about supporting our African-American neighbors, wearing “Black Lives Matter” masks and shirts, holding “Listen, Learn, Love” and “Anti-racism” signs, and all wearing masks so as to care for those around us … These are not only indicators of positive change and definitive hope. These, I believe, are signs of God’s presence with us, God’s Spirit among us, God’s calling to us.
Heeding God’s Call: And woe be to us if we fail to heed this working of the Spirit. I humbly choose to be, I hope, on the sacred side of what God is about in our midst. Let us not be sidetracked by those few who choose to disrupt or distract. Loud, well-placed voices would have us believe the power and impetus for change is misplaced and radical. Some would even label demonstrators like me and my family (participating where they live in demonstrations in Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Utah and Tennessee) as Antifa, anarchists, terrorists, and thugs. No. We are concerned citizens. And many of us, probably the majority of us, are Christians.
I, for one, believe what we are witnessing right now, even in the midst of this pandemic, is very much a God thing. I choose, prayerfully, to do my best, to move with the Spirit, and to be faithful to whatever it is our Lord is up to in our time. I hope you will join me.