In Extreme Times
Are you feeling a little battered by the extremes of summer, 2010?
The heat that often swathed and exhausted us was reflected in much of the country, while Pakistan has experienced its worst floods in a century and Moscow struggles to breathe in the smog from heat-induced fires.
And while weather heated up the climate change debate, other social and political divisions seem louder – over the economy, immigration, Muslim mosques, gay marriage, Afghanistan…
If Life (capital “L”) just feels kind of precarious to you these days, you are probably in good company.
Now this is where you might expect a pastor to say soothing words about faith, and invite us all to “come home” to its comfort as a new season begins. But first, let me remind us that Christian faith is not a “mild” faith, not a spiritual pill to help us forget the realities of the world. No, a faith based on a life that embraced the cross of love and forgiveness as the answer to hate and suffering is not a mild faith. It calls us to engage with the world and its problems as those who follow Jesus and his teachings of peace and justice.
But it is in the rhythms and practices of the church, drawn from our Jewish-Christian heritage, that we can find the comfort (a word that literally means “with strength”) we may be seeking in these times. The purposeful keeping of a regular Sabbath (God’s original design for life), worship and sacraments, hearing God’s word, and especially regular prayer with the congregation and in daily life – these are the things that can help us “keep faith,” stay steady for ourselves and others, during these days.
So, yes – this is an invitation to come home as a new season begins, not as an escape from an extreme world, but to be part of the regular practices that remind us that we are God’s called and beloved people.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea…
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.