I am afraid.
A city is burning, and I am afraid.
Earlier, my friend put it perfectly. If you didn’t know that those images streaming through our televisions and news-feeds were of American streets before you saw them, you might not know that they were at all. This doesn’t look like our country.
And that just hurts.
What are we doing to ourselves?
The earth under Nepal quaked and opened up, and cities tumbled and people DIED. Thousands of people are GONE.
And yet, we are still here, and I can sit in the doctor’s office on a sunny, breezy afternoon and fill out a healthcare form and check “no” for every discernible disability, disease, condition and injury, because, thank you God, I can.
We are still here and we HATE each other and we bat our eyes at the blessings that we have and we just don’t care. None of us do.
And we are destroying ourselves.
Not just with our hands. With ours words.
Our enemies need not raise their voices or their hands, we are sure to do it to ourselves.
Because nobody has the right answer, only each of us thinks they have the right answer, and if only everybody would just listen to US then this world would be better, this mess would be undone. Right?
That’s the problem. Nobody ever claims to see this all coming, and they can sit in their homes, behind their walls in the days after and tell you that they know how to fix it all and pretend that they want to listen to what everyone else has to say.
But by the time people are spilling out into the streets and setting things on fire, and throwing bricks at other people and breaking glass, it’s too late.
I went to bed last night when I could finally peel my eyes away from my phone and all of the images of things on fire and people looking angry, and I woke up this morning, I heard this voice ring out loud and clear with the rising sun,
“Dawn is here, now. Are you going to be a part of the problem, or a part of the solution.”
I know not all of you are into the whole, “christian, God thing.”
But I sat in my pew on Sunday and our pastor pounded it into us about how GOD IS NOT A BYSTANDAER WHEN WALLS FALL DOWN, AND BUILDINGS BURN AND THERE IS SUFFERING AND CHAOS. AND WE ARE NOT HELPLESS AND WE ARE NOT CALLED TO FEAR.
What followed could have been an entire sermon devoted to how we do this to ourselves and can only blame ourselves, and yet we were reminded that:
GOD IS NOT SURPRISED.
He is active. He is ALIVE.
And we are CALLED. We are ordained. We are sent forth.
We are not lights under a bushel, hidden from all prying eyes. We should not shield ourselves behind our walls and pretend that in the world we know, things like this don’t happen to people like us.
I might have been inclined to automatically believe that when the midwest was on fire last year, but now that it’s an hour away, it’s too real and too close to ignore any longer.
We are to burn brightly in this world, and those are really going to be the fires that are brighter than a burning city.
Fear and confusion and hate and anger make us wrap ourselves up into a tight, comfortable coil, where we can only see darkness. We are consumed with ourselves and BY ourselves. We are the thing that can destroy ourselves.
Hope is really the thing that breaks you and shatters you into a million pieces. Pieces that plant in the ground and grow and break through the earth into something NEW.
We need something new.
We need hope.
God almighty, we have hope.
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal.
I know that some of you don’t do the “God thing,” and I get it. But now is assuredly the time to take our eyes off of ourselves and to place them on something greater. To look to heaven and realize that we are all together. That we are all one.
It’s time to place our eyes on something greater, on The One who can heal all things and make beautiful things out of the dust.
He can make beautiful things out of us.
Martin Luther King:
“Go out this morning. Love yourself, and that means rational and healthy self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That’s the length of life. Then follow that: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That’s the breadth of life. And I’m going to take my seat now by letting you know that there’s a first and even greater commandment: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength.” I think the psychologist would just say with all thy personality. And when you do that, you’ve got the breadth of life.
And when you get all three of these together, you can walk and never get weary. You can look up and see the morning stars singing together, and the sons of God shouting for joy. When you get all of these working together in your very life, judgement will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
When you get all the three of these together, the lamb will lie down with the lion.
When you get all three of these together, you look up and every valley will be exalted, and every hill and mountain will be made low; the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh will see it together.
When you get all three of these working together, you will do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
When you get all three of these together, you will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.