We wonder sometimes whether there is such thing as fulfillment of a Biblical promise in our time. One that we can see, that we can verify, that we can definitively recognize as evidence of God’s providence. In times of uncertainty, we look to God with even greater supplication and requests for intervention. We ask for guidance and knowledge that all will be well. We seek assurance that if we keep doing what we’re doing, that somehow we will be able to affect our future, to be rewarded for our patience and receive an outcome we not only expect but prefer.
If only God worked that way.
Our uncertainties rarely produce calm; they produce anxieties in us and for our lives. And yet when we feel anxious, we rarely seek the solace and calm that turning to God and God’s purposes can bring, because we cannot predict or produce the outcome we want when we want it. We forget that any particular moment of our lives may seem interminably long, but may be but a small part of God’s timeline. We forget that our destinies and purposes are not only our own. We forget that we are part of a larger story, one that includes the entire span of our lives, within the entire span of the lives of our families, our communities, and the people whom we touch for brief moments or for years or lifetimes.
Part of that story includes turning to the Bible for examples of God’s presence in the past. The Bible is replete with examples of what has happened to God’s chosen people at all times. And the answers, from Isaiah to Jeremiah to Ezekiel are clear: if the people and their rulers can follow God’s purposes, the people prosper, with times of peaceful co-existence, plenty of food, trade, and resources, and times when other nations are not at war with Israel and Judea. When the people and their rulers turn away from God’s requirements for each of them and all of them, bad stuff happens: Israel’s armies are destroyed in battle, Jerusalem falls, the temple is destroyed, the people enslaved, and Judea de-populated.
So what can we do, individually, and at TCC, to reduce our uncertainty and hence our anxiety?
For those of you who have attended worship this month, we have focused on doing what God requires of each of us and all of us: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (which means not trying to control God or our outcomes). We build community, we love our neighbors as ourselves. When we do these things, even as the rest of the world seems to spin out of control, we can start a small light that can spread contagiously to others around us. We can be a beacon of hope, reflecting the light of the world that is Christ, and begin to turn the dialogue of division to be the dialogue of inclusion. Because welcoming God requires welcoming each other first; finding common ground amongst disagreement, no matter how vociferous.
Is this what God wants? I know that in the short term it may not produce the fruit that I wish for or the outcome I expect, but it is most definitely scripturally faithful to God’s purposes. And while I have said this before in many different forums and ways, it bears repeating: love one another as Christ has loved
each of us, and all of us, and we cannot fail. Do not seek the mountaintop moment today, friends, but do the work in the world and the valleys of our lives, and the mountaintop will be gained. And I hope we are there to see it, but if not, let us be assured that we have done God’s work in the meantime.
Come and build with us this year. Come and build community.
Thanks be to God,