The View From Bolton St

Things Are Bad: Now what?

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:35

For many of us, things in the wider world, around the country and even here in the city seem impossibly bad. Love seems to be in short supply.  Between the murder rate and the ongoing cyber-attack in Baltimore, to laws attacking a women’s right to choose and separating families at the border; to our escalating anti-immigrant policies and movements toward yet another war in the Middle East and in Asia, it is hard to see the good.  

And for a few of us here at Memorial, our individual, family and communal lives are equally troubled and challenging.  Unexplainable death, loss, illness and separation. 

SO what do we do? 

A good first step is to take a DEEP breath. 

It’s bad. It’s really bad. But you are still here. Let’s keep it that way. 

Now look around. Are your people still here? Good. Love them. And let them love you. 

Now let’s... carefully.... look out there.

What do you see? Jerks. Probably.

You might see them in Washington. Or In Alabama. You might see them in an angry family member. A crappy neighbor. You might see them in a terrifying new law or an unfair justice system. 

The world is filled with jerks. 

Okay now look up. (Or out. Or over. Or at a tree. Or wherever you see the Divine)

What do you see? God.

And God is so very good to us. 

Loving us unconditionally. For all time. Forever. And loving the jerks too. 

Now look back the other way. You have your family, friends and people in one place.  And jerks in the other direction; and if you have to pick two of these three — which are you picking? 

God and Family(blood, chosen, adopted, borrowed), right? Hold tight to that family and to that God. And trust that God will Shepherd us through the pain and grief and trauma and carry us through to the other side. 

I’m not saying forget about the jerks! They are terrifying. And they may pose a real danger to you and to people you love. Maybe not today but someday.  But don’t make them the focus of your energy either. Because that is what they want. And that is what the devil wants. To leave you depleted. Tired. Angry. Alone. And disengaged from the world. From your network. From your God. 

Don’t let the Devil win. 

It’s okay to lean back on God and on your people. Sometimes, we need a shepherd, after all. 

It is true that things may be bad right now, but your anger won’t fix that. 

But the collective love, care, compassion and support of your community, your God and the guidance of your Shepherd(s) — May just help you to find a new path and a new way forward. Because there is a lot of GOOD out there too.  In this community, in your community and all throughout God’s Kingdom.  And we have a Shepherd in Jesus who is so very good to us, that he will walk with us through that suffering and bring us safely home.