Dear Sisters and Brothers –
Sometimes life is good. Even unbearably sweet. We pinch ourselves. We’re brimming with gratitude. God is good! Yeehaw!
But other times life is a mess – imperfect, confusing, hard, unkind, broken. The deck is stacked against us. We’re doomed. Um, maybe this election season comes to mind just a bit…
Or, consider this shocking fact that journalist, Brigid Schulte, shares in her book Overwhelmed: “The average high school kid today experiences the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950s.” Yikes!
Overwhelmed indeed – and sometimes we lose heart. As followers of Jesus we wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” Our faith is ridiculed; or, even flounders. Church life (our spiritual life together) feels trivialized, impotent. The reign of God feels wildly out of reach. So now what?
I want to share with you some of the most centering words I have come across in a long time, from Richard Rohr:
“We should not be surprised or scandalized by the sinful and the tragic. Do what you can to be peace and to do justice, but never expect or demand perfection on this earth. It usually leads to a false moral outrage, a negative identity, intolerance, paranoia, and self-serving crusades against ‘the contaminating element,’ instead of ‘becoming a new creation’ ourselves (Galatians 6:1).
“We must resist all utopian ideologies and heroic idealisms that are not tempered by patience and taught by all that is broken, flawed, sinful and poor.”
Rohr goes on to claim that Jesus was “an utter realist,” and reminds us Jesus’ job description for his followers included being “the leaven, the salt, the remnant, the mustard seed that God can use to transform the world.”
Rohr’s words are so helpful to me, because he is encouraging us all to press on as realists, who are patiently figuring out how to act in humble, non-flashy ways to bear witness to the good news. By the grace and power of God, we “do what [we] can to be peace and do justice.” And we can take heart, because when it comes to God’s promised new creation, we’re included; and, God is always the God of “somehow.”
Be the church!