These days, there seems to be more anxiety, worry, concern about our present and our future than normal, and I am recognizing that many people seems distracted in day-to-day work. The question for me is, “How do we as people of faith acknowledge this and still go about doing the work of the church?” We cannot ignore the world we live in, especially when our news is filled with white supremacy riots and the responses from sports stars, stagnating wages, the increasing frequency and destruction of natural disasters, the threat of nuclear war not felt for some 30 years in our country, unstable health care markets, the rising cost of housing in our region, and the uncertainty of our federal government.
We could simply turn off the news and ignore the plight of humans near and far.
However, our faith calls us to do more than turn away from the world around us. In fact, we have discerned from our New Beginnings process this last year and a half that our faith is calling ACC specifically to study and service in the issues of environmental and racial justice. There are lots of places where these two issues intersect; in fact, in worship a few weeks ago we put together 107 hygiene kits for Church World Service to give to people affected by the recent hurricanes, recognizing that in most natural disasters racial minorities are typically more affected. This was a concrete way to deal with the feeling of helplessness in the face of powerful natural and human-made forces in our world.
What else do we as people of faith do to bring peace and calm to an anxious world? We pray and sing, and here at ACC we design gardens. I have wondered whether in these times of extreme uncertainty it makes sense to build a garden and a labyrinth. Couldn’t our energy and money go toward something better? And my answer to myself is, “Well, no actually, it couldn’t.” We have stated that we are called to work on behalf of our planet, we are called to offer some sanctuary and respite from the weary world, so perhaps the best thing we could do when a nuclear show-down looms is to pray and build gardens.
We also have a unique place in our society of open listening to our concerns, and holding the concerns in prayer. To that end, after church, I will invite you to grab a cup of coffee and join me in the Fireside Room to discuss what’s going on in the world and how we interpret that through our progressive Christian faith. What in the Bible, the tradition, or our experience of the faith can guide us? I hope you will join me in those conversations, with the first one starting this Sunday, Oct 1.
Our faith calls us to respond to the world, and, knowing that, the New Beginnings small groups developed an unofficial vision statement that I think speaks to our call as a congregation: “Building a Just Society from the Inspiration of our Faith” (Thanks, Linda Young, for developing this into words for us!!!).
So even in these tough times, and maybe especially in these tough times, we are called as people of faith to serve, to pray, to bring peace, and to hear others into calm. That is what we do best!
May you know the peace that passes understanding in these days.