by Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings
We are living in a time between, “We just want things to get back to normal,” and, “What was wasn’t that great, can we imagine something different?” While there are some people who are firmly on one side or the other, I imagine many of us are stretched between these two statements. We recognize the world as it was (and as it is) is filled with inequity and injustice. We know something must be done about the giant gap between rich and poor, that we have to fix our nations healthcare system, that racial inequality is deadly. These things are all killing people. And yet, particularly for those of us who benefit from the system as it is, it is really hard to actually muster the energy to change. Change is hard and scary. Even when what we know is terrible, fear of the unknown often keeps us stuck in situations we know need to change.
We Christians know this all too well. For decades voices have been telling the church it must change, adapt, become made new, and yet comfort has called and we have remained the same. Which is ironic, because the Christian life is one of being transformed. In particular, it is a life of being refined and purified by the Holy Spirit that we might love.
Love is the result of the transformation we undergo in the name of Christ.
“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth (of the spirit) so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”
As much as we may… aspire to? hope for? agree with the idea of? being so obedient to God we are transformed to the point that we have genuine, deep mutual love, we also also tend to resist it with all of our will and/or don’t actually know how to do this. Who are our models for being transformed to this degree? How do we heal enough to allow ourselves to be consumed by love? What will happen to the person I know as “me” if I allow this to happen? For most of us, the fear of who we could become or what it will actually take or what we will have to give up to be transformed by love so that we might love in the way of Christ. Even though we know God will be with us the whole time.
This inner transformation and the possible transformation of our society have much in common. For each we will have to be willing to give of ourselves in ways that may be uncomfortable. For each, those who have more than they need will be called to open their hands and hearts and share privilege, power, money, resources. Each process calls for deep introspection, and in neither case do we know what lies on the other side of the transformation.
We also know these transformations, rooted in, transformed by, and growing towards love, bring us closer to the kingdom. These transformations are a piece of what we pray for every time we gather together in the words, “your kingdom come.” As we reach towards the kingdom and the kingdom approaches us, God is bridging that gap and holding us all the time. If you feel so called, this week could be an opportunity to move your people towards the transformation – their own and transformation for the new, just equitable world that could begin to rise out of this crisis.
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