Coming across a stand of Joe Pye Weed covered with butterflies in a recent walk, I was reminded that “the world is filled with the grandeur of God.” In one of his Sabbath Poems, Wendell Berry also meditates on “the long age of the passing world” and of “resting in a keeping not my own.” Likewise, Richard Rohr speaks of creation as the “original goodness.” Authentic spirituality is to deliberately practice having a grateful heart.
How do we understand Jesus’ claim that he has come not to bring peace but division and his rebuke to his hearers because they fail to interpret the signs of the times? The crisis Jesus refers to is like a continental divide on which the water on one side flows to one destination and the water on the other side flows to another. The crisis in our times is the rise of different kinds of nationalism around the world. When the church is true to its calling it’s a fellowship which transcends all frontiers of nation or race or class and thus challenges head-on, by its very existence, the idolatrous claims of racist and nationalist ideology.
A mixture of uncertainty and faithful trust keeps playing itself out throughout our lives. How does one face the future without fear? Sarah and Abraham are our biblical examples of trusting God’s promises even when they didn’t see them in their lifetime. To trust in God’s future means letting go of every “ism” that seeks to keep control of the present.
Baptism is a hopeful, exciting church ritual as we invite one more person into the adventure of faith and of following Jesus. Being baptized is more than a one-time event. It is a dynamic spiritual discipline of “loving Jesus together and loving the way he loved.” It’s not about pining after some mythical former Golden Age or longing for a distant future utopia. Instead, we trust that God is doing a new thing right here and right now. Together, we are part of this new creation—God’s new humanity.
Racism is raising its head and infiltrating places of power in our nation. As a pastor, I don’t want to get into a partisan political fray but feel that I must speak up for people who are being demeaned and hurt. We recognize that Jesus disarmed the powers and triumphed over then in the cross (Col, 2:15). Accordingly Richard Rohr says, “I would insist that the foundation of Jesus’ social program is what I will call non-idolatry or the withdrawal of your enthrallment from all kingdoms except the Kingdom of God."