We are now half way through the year, and I would be willing to bet that none of us could have predicted how this year would unfold. But unfold it has, and is still doing so. The challenges are many and varied, and they seem to just keep coming. The drastic measures put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 made a huge difference. Here in Montana the growth of new cases almost completely stopped for more than a month. But then the restrictions were relaxed, and now the numbers are once again on the rise. The problem of systemic racism has been with us for a long time, and this year we find ourselves confronted with it yet again, this time in ways which seem finally to be getting people’s attention. But still there is resistance and push back. These are but two examples. Some days it seems as if everywhere we turn there is some new challenge crying out for our attention. People everywhere are hurting, and all too often there don’t seem to be any good answers. But for those of us who seek to be people of faith, having no good answer need not stop us, because it is not just up to us to have all the answers or solve all the problems. We can only do what it is within our power to do, and trust in God to be with us in the process. It does mean, however, that we need to step up and do our part. As the sign I carried at the Human Rights Rally last week-end at the Capitol said, “Jesus said, ‘Love one another.’ Let’s try that!” Not just some mushy, feel-good love. We need to be about the business of whole-hearted, full-bodied love – a love that gets our hands dirty – a love that might make us uncomfortable. It means we are called to take the steps we can take to keep each other safe. Put on a mask (it’s to protect others from what you may unknowingly be carrying). Practice appropriate social distancing. Avoid crowds. It means we are called to listen to those who are hurting, and stand with them as they proclaim their truth. When I went to the Human Rights Rally (with my sign) I was prepared for a reporter to come talk to me (none did – but I was prepared). My response was going to be, and still will be at any future rally I attend, “I’m here to stand with, not to speak for. I encourage you to go find a person of color, or an indigenous person, or an LGBTQ person. Hear their pain. Listen to their story.” We are called to share the love of God through the living of our lives. As St. Francis once said, “Preach the gospel every day. If necessary, use words.” In these very challenging days in which we find ourselves, we cannot always (or ever) choose or control the challenges we face, but we can choose and control how we will face them. Love one another. Let’s start there!
- Pastor Roger
(keeping my feet firmly planted in the flow)