There are certain chapters of the life of the world that I simply want to be over – this is one – guessing I’m not the only one. For the half-generation before me and my early years, it was Vietnam. It was that war that kept going on forever and there were polarizing sentiments and so many of our military folks felt unsupported because there was so much disagreement about what was happening there. And then a lot of stuff and then September 11, 2001, and then we became militarily embroiled in Afghanistan and for 20 years and 5 Presidential cycles, both Republican and Democrat, we haven’t known what the end game was. The last few years especially, we have moved toward knowing it was time to be done, but what did done really mean? What we know now, this wasn’t exactly what we meant, at least the images we’re seeing in real time.
And does it mean the last 20 years have meant nothing? Hear me clearly THE SACRIFICES OF LIVES THAT HAVE BEEN MADE IN THAT TIME AND IN THAT PLACE WERE NOT A WASTE!!! I think it may feel like that for some of those families, and we’ve had some families at Grace who’s loved ones paid the ultimate price, it was not for nothing! For those battle buddies that they saved, for those citizens of an oppressive regime who got to live with less fear, for those women and girls not allowed to receive an education or work to their potential for whom life opened up, it was NOT a waste! And now it’s chaos and filled with fear and we’re left wondering in those images where we fit in somehow being able to make a difference.
And there’s Haiti and earthquakes and flooding rains and so. much. poverty. United Methodists have been in Haiti for generations attempting, in sometimes more and sometimes less, effective ways to work with the people of that island nation to try and build a good life for more and more of the population. And the earthquakes come again, and the hurricanes and rain and wind, and the work continues.
And there are fires in so many places both here and around the world to the point there is haze in the air 1,000’s of miles away. While we receive between 7.5 and 8.5 inches of rain that, for many, mean flood cleanup and repair. And we wonder why the rains didn’t fall on the fires.
I’m not particularly into end-times predictions because I believe God is God and we’re not. I do think there is a spiritual expectation that we care about, with, and for one another and our earth in a way that is life-giving and we haven’t quite figured that out yet. Thank heavens for grace while we keep trying.
There were school girls captured in Nigeria over 5 years ago, some have returned in the proceeding years, some still come home now and then, many will never be found. Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the taliban in 2012 for campaigning for the right of girls to receive an education. She survived and has been a public figure raising her voice for women’s rights since that time, and we wonder what progress has been made.
We may decide that’s a problem for everywhere but here – that we’ve made our way past those gender bias issues that keep young girls and women from achieving their dreams. While I’m grateful girls and women in this republic don’t put their lives in danger to receive an education for the most part, there is still a pay gap in every profession and in no case is there equal pay for equal work, including religious systems.
These are the days that I wonder if what we’re doing is making a difference. The taliban took Afghanistan back over in the less than a week. Blame Biden if you want. Blame Trump if you want. Blame O’bama if you want. Blame George W. if you want. Does that make us feel better? Does it make the situation better? Does it make us as a people better? You know, to decide who to blame and then rage at the people who blame the person we don’t? At least it keeps us busy I guess. And we don’t have to realize how helpless we feel.
And I look out my window and do you know what I see? The same member I see every week almost to the minute who comes by after being sure the mail has arrived, and drops his offering in our mail box. There are actually several who do this. This particular member is well over 90, loves his church and the people in it, has been a leader in this community longer than most of us have cast a shadow on the ground . . . and he refuses. to. give. up. – on you, on this city, on this nation, on this world, on this old pastor who sometimes can’t see a whole lot of hope in humanity either her own or nearly anyone else trying to make decisions that simply cause more verbal if not literal stones to be thrown in anger and too much rage.
You can harangue around about how much I don’t understand the situation in Afghanistan or Nigeria, or Haiti, or the United States. What leader or leaders could-a, would-a, should-a done better on absolutely everything everywhere. And I’m going to do what I think a weekly dropper-inner of an offering to support his church is committed to doing, I’m simply not going to give up – on us, on our city, on our nation, on the world. And I will stay committed to doing the things that I can in this place and time to try and bring justice and peace. Lots of times I’m going to get it wrong, and every now and again by God’s grace, I may get something right in relationship to some one of God’s children. And in all the times I recommit myself to pray for the wisdom and the courage and the grace of God to be tender and kind of heart, generous and expansive of spirit, and maybe in the end, that’s a gift that God can truly use for the world.