What the World needs now, is love sweet love. It is the only thing there is just too little of.
What the World needs now, is love sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone...
Okay, bear with me, my friends. I just have to say the obvious: 2020, while greatly awaited, has been a terrible year. We are a divided people living in a frustrated and divided world. We fight about what to do about our circumstances and we fight about if there are even circumstances to fight about. Here in the United States simply wearing a mask in public has become a political conflict. People have been physically assaulted for asking another person to put on a mask.
Staying at home can also be dangerous. According to the UN, worldwide rates of domestic violence has increased by up to 300%, in the past 4 months especially in counties with few laws to protect woman, children and marginalized populations from violence and abuse.
As well, it will be many years before we will fully realize the pandemic’s developmental impacts on an entire generation of children due to disrupted education and lack of social contact.
The Gospel tells us that the world is like a field. And the reality of the world is that weeds are growing among good seeds. And both will continue to grow together until the harvest. This said, there is good wheat to talk about too.
For example, as Katie noted last week people are gardening this year. A worker at Dennis Company told me that this has been one of their best years ever. They cannot keep seeds and plants in stock. And yesterday morning I stopped in at All Wrapped Up to get my morning coffee and met a man sitting at a table outside the coffee shop holding a super cute puppy. As I petted and admired his adorable puppy, he told me that he and his wife really struggled to find a puppy as the demand is so high right now. This was confirmed on the news last night by a report that Americans are experiencing a high demand for puppies. People have time for puppies now.
That is good. Right?
And it is not just puppies and flowers. Black Lives Matter is finally taking root in this country. We are beginning to change the narrative about race, freedom and justice. Women have shouted in unity “Me too” resulting in men such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffery Epstein being finally brought to justice (well, sort of).
Paul writes to the Romans that we are co-inheritors of the kingdom of God along with Jesus. Paul is implying, using the analogy of pain in childbirth, that the kingdom’s path is not pathed in rainbows. Life is sometimes painful, and righteous choices are hard, even dangerous, but in the end we will find the joy.
It is easy to say we love God and that we are Christians, and yet how we live our lives, hence the choices we make will determine whether we are harvested as good wheat and delivered to God; or pulled up and burned with the weeds.
I have a young client. I will share some of her story without providing anything that could identify her and breech her legal right to confidentially.
Seven years ago, while she was in school, her mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. That afternoon CPS picked her up from school and placed her in the first of six different foster homes. Her biological father was, and still is, in prison. Three years ago, she was able to share, with authorities, her trauma narrative of sexual abuse by boyfriends of her mother for as long as she can remember.
Today she is an activist for LGBTQ rights and leads Black Lives Matter protests. She tells me that she enjoys the protests in Hoquiam because the people are nicer. She says that people in Hoquiam honk their horns and yell “Black Lives Matter” and “We Shall Overcome” from their cars as they drive by. She says this feels so good and makes her feel like the world is a safe and happy place after all. In contrast, in Aberdeen, a person pointed a gun at her group and shouted “mean stuff” which she did not want to repeat. She told me that, “Aberdeen is sort ‘a scary, but even in Aberdeen there are some nice people. And most importantly we (the protestors) are together and we know we are on the right side. So, we are happy.”
When I met this pretty blond, blue eyed, fair skinned girl she was 12 years old. She was depressed, missed her mom, and planned to jump off a bridge as soon as she got the chance. Today she is managing her depression by leading a life of purpose. She found emotional healing though activism and service to others. She told me that Yelling “Black Lives Matter” connects her with all the people who have suffered because of people’s abuse of power over others.
Another example of good seed living a lifetime among the weeds. Today we honor the Godly life of US Rep. John Robert Lewis, who died July 17, 2020 at age 80. His whole life was a testament to his faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a young preacher and civil rights activist, he was beaten, left bloody and scared. He was arrested many times for boldly demanding social justice for black people. Mr. Lewis carried his scars with pride and dignity as an iconic national leader and statesmen. He was not afraid to speak out for peace for all. He put himself in harm’s way because he believed that while the road is hard it is worth traveling.
He spoke with intrepid boldness truth to power and moral righteousness; and his friends say he was also sweet, calm, and gentle; funny, kind, and beautiful. He knew love is love. He empowered woman and men to act on their principles. He empowered and inspired, and sometimes he tossed jellybeans at his friends and giggled. He could laugh, joke around, and do hard work. He was bigger than life said one friend.
As I ponder leaders like Mr. Lewis, and young people demanding justice I feel the bitter sweetness of the good fight. But when I watch the violent and appalling events in Portland this weekend, I wonder how my feelings about the world today compare to those who lived through other adversities throughout human history. I pray for my friends at St Mark’s that they are holding up and finding value and purpose during these difficult times. I hope my contemplations are an exercise in empathy and love, and not self-pity. I pray that our fights are for good things and not hopelessly focused on the existence of weeds. I believe that God knows our hearts. I believe God knows we mean to be good seed.
The bad stuff of this world is bad! There is no hiding from this truth. The weeds exist. Today I will focus on the good seeds and the good fight.
Being a co inheritor of the kingdom of God is bigger than all of it. The Good News is bigger than life. In the words of today’s psalm: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
The following is a Black Spiritual written in response to our true inheritance: