Dear Church Family,
I have hope, excitement and joy to share. It is the true light that shines in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome. But first we need to travel down into the darkness.
Suddenly, within the span of a week, we are living in a completely different world. It is as if we went to the doctor and received a diagnosis of a fast-moving, life-threatening disease, and at the same time discovered that the doctors we entrusted with our health were unwilling to treat us.
A scary diagnosis changes everything. Life’s main focus turns to survival and a return to health.
Except with the diagnosis we have just received, we need to save far more than our own life. We also need to save hundreds of millions of people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. We need to save human civilization with all its potential for goodness and beauty. We need to save thousands of other species from extinction, and perhaps our own.
The diagnosis came from a moderate, international agency in the form of the most definitive and dire study of climate change ever done. It indicates that we have far less time than previously expected before devastating effects of climate change cripple the world economy, cause widespread famine and food shortages and send a hundred million or more permanent refugees from low lying coastlands searching for new homes, to name only a few of many symptoms.
At the same time, our leading doctors are not inclined to respond to this life threatening diagnosis. They now include the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and dozens of new federal judges. They are all likely to oppose taking the immediate actions we need to slow the run-away devastation of climate change.
Before this week it was possible for a fifty or even thirty year old to think that catastrophic climate change might not arrive in their lifetime. Now there are 75 and 80 year olds who may live to experience it.
Climate change will increasingly exacerbate many other threats to human civilization as we have known it. The poor will suffer disproportionately and get poorer; racism and walls against refugees will rise; democracy and freedom will be challenged as fear drives nations toward authoritarian and totalitarian governments. We see these trends already, along side worsening hurricanes, wildfires and droughts.
But here is the good news. Here is the light shining in the darkness. The church can play a transformative role to help save civilization, creating a just and sustainable new society modeled on the realm of God. We have the way of Christ, we have the capacity to develop the heart and mind of Christ within us, we have the power of the Holy Spirit that created the earth and nurtured our evolution, we have the greatest force in the universe on our side, the force of love and life and light. We have a vision of a world ruled by love and compassion, justice and peace. The darkness cannot overcome that light.
We have great hope, and we can have the joy of the most exciting, meaningful, transformative life possible, because the church was made for just such a situation, and all our individual gifts were given us to serve just such a need. This is our time. This is our calling. We have miracles to work, small, everyday miracles and miracles the size of the planet.
“The Greatest Generation” was called the greatest because of the magnitude of the threat it rose to face. We face a far greater one now. It is asking us to rise to the greatest that we can be. We each need to find what the Spirit is calling and enabling us to do, no matter what our age or position in life, and that is an extremely exciting thought! We can do amazing things together.
This Sunday in worship we will celebrate abundant hope and joy as we look at our Future Directions Vision and the lectionary scriptures through this new, sharply focused lens. We will discover the comfort, guidance and inspiration they provide as we set out on our new journey together. We will also hear words of past saints who have found Christ’s way through the hardest times.
We will read from Psalm 90 and hear a passage from the Prophet Amos who lived in another period when evil threatened to overcome good. The gospel passage will be the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus how to enter eternal life. It has profound meaning in our changing life context. (Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Mark 10:17-31)
We will sing “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and a new hymn text set to the tune Finlandia, and “O Young and Fearless Prophet” set to another beautiful tune, Blairgowrie, by the nineteenth century church organist and composer John B. Dykes.
Thank you for being part of this wonderful community. Your presence brings hope and joy to us all!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Tom Kinder