Sabbatical: Week 9

I woke up early last week feeling like we are living through the apocalypse; Our national discourse has gone totally off the rails, our entire state seems to be up in flames, and some tragic situations are happening close to some people I love. With all that is going on, I have found myself clinging to Jesus in a deeper way than usual.

It is easy for me to live in my head and distance myself from difficult situations and tragic events. But in this season, rather than disengage, I am choosing to lean in. As I do, I have found that I have fewer answers. I have no idea why some people seem to be magnets for tragedy, why some communities get destroyed entirely, why some people are so much more impacted by situations happening in the news. And having no answers have left me in a really new and unique space.

What if I simply try and put on the clothing of Christ and live as an incarnate version of him in my community. While there are plenty of stories where Jesus showed up and did miraculous things among the people, his most significant ministry was the ministry of presence. He saw people, served them, washed their feet, and spoke of the hope of the coming Kingdom. What if that is what Jesus is asking me to do? Us to do?

In neutral I always step away from difficult situations and conversations. For some reason, I think this gives me some sense of control. But in these awful times, at this moment where the smoke is a constant reminder of total destruction to communities and homes, loss of life and heartbreak, and millions of acres up in flames, there is no way to pretend that suffering and pain is not part of our world. And as followers of Christ who are called to model the incarnated ministry of Christ, maybe our ministry should merely look like the one we are following.

Presence. Empathy. Authenticity. Hope.

These are not difficult things to bring to our friendships or to our community. It simply requires us to take on the mantle of Christ, to take our needs, our status, our desire to fix everything, and just be available to others in ways that speak to the deepest parts of people’s souls.

While this is my personal journey, I am so aware that offering presence, thoughts and prayers are also not enough. Our faith is proven true when it is marked by both faith and actions. I am thankful for being connected to a denomination that is set up to help when disaster strikes and if you are interested in donating to support relief efforts, here is a short post about what our denomination is up to and places you can give.

Well, those are just some random reflections from a smoke-filled week. May our discomfort we feel in our eyes, nose, and throats, be a reminder of some real pain and suffering happening in these communities and in our world. And may the Lord grow our hearts, deepen our empathy, and compel us toward action, for the glory of God.