It’s been a while – a LONG while – since I shared anything with you. I’ll blame it, a bit, on Covid. These are difficult, challenging days, and right now, I’m pretty tired. The daily routine has become a bit of a routine, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Just repetitive weariness. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. For all of us, this is getting long and draining.
And then, on top of that, there was the election. Or maybe more properly, the IS the election. As I write this we still don’t know for certain who will be President. Still several states outstanding, and legal challenges are threatened. And that wearies us even more.
But then, sometimes, we stumble on something that we hadn’t seen before. And if we are lucky, we do that more than once.
If you watched our video worship on YouTube for November 1 (you can find it at www.oursaviorswestsalem/videos), you saw several folk from Our Savior’s share what is exciting them: like the summer lunch program, food pantry, and our endowment fund; and like our worship that goes to lots of places and our youth ministry that is trying to be creative. And like connections.
Carolyn Karl shared about connecting with others. And as she did, she said something interesting. She said that when she is down, or struggling, or wearied, she has found a way out. Find someone in need, and focus on them. Focus on their hurts, pains, and needs.
Why? Well, for a start, it kind of takes your mind off your own troubles. That helps.
But I think she’s on to more than that. When I’m struggling, weary, and just plain worn out, that becomes my narrative. That is my life. That is how I see the world around me, and how I face the future, a future that is not all that attractive sometimes.
But…when I take my eyes off myself, and when I focus instead on the needs of the other, I create a new narrative. Not a narrative of pity or “gee, that’s too bad.” That’s looking at someone else, but still living for me. My narrative hasn’t changed.
Instead, a new narrative comes when I see in the other an opportunity. An opportunity to reach out, to make a difference, to change another’s life. An opportunity to be generous. An opportunity to live for something more than me.
Think about it. Is it not true, that the happiest people you know are those who would give you the shirt off their back? Generous people are happy!
The invitation to live for something more than me becomes the opportunity to craft a new narrative. And that is God’s gift to us. God brings into our midst people of all sorts, and some, many perhaps, are hurting, broken, and in need. The opportunity is there to connect and to bring gifts of life, focusing on their needs. The gift is that as I am an agent of change to them, and as I craft a new narrative for myself, I am changed. I am changed by a gracious God whose Holy Spirit works in me and transforms me, even in the midst of my own weariness.
Which leads me to my second “stumble.” Sometimes things just sort of pop out. This week, as I recorded our video (you’ll be able to find it on the same web page), and shared some thoughts on the election, it occurred to me (as I spoke) that right now, as the election is done and the healing comes next, this really is an opportunity to be (guess what?)… generous!
Generous, again! And (spoiler alert) – a new narrative, again!
Generous how? Win or lose, this has been an exhausting election cycle. Lots of energy and emotion. We are tense, uneasy, and maybe even fearful as we await results and a sense of finality. And perhaps worst of all, a lot of division, suspicion, and conflict, even among families.
If you aren’t one of “us,” if you are one of “them,” well… After all, my narrative is built on my worldview (rather than yours), and the power to make it happen.
But what if we tried to change the narrative? What if instead of looking build my worldview, I embraced a different worldview? A worldview not founded on what works for me, and what fits in my little box. What if instead I embraced a worldview that is founded on God’s call, and on God’s generosity to all of creation?
That kind of a worldview creates a new narrative, a narrative that is not about “us” and “them”…and “me.” A narrative that generously looks to the other, even when the other voted for “him” (this year, in another year, maybe for “her.”)
As we come out of this election a narrative that is focused on me, my worldview, my want for power to go my way, is going to be wearying, even if I’m on the winning side.
But a narrative that instead embraces the other because that narrative is fed and nourished by God’s generosity becomes a narrative of life, of hope, and of renewal. Kind of like “Carolyn’s connecting.”
OK, I’m still a bit tired. I’ve got video work tomorrow, several things on tap Sunday, and then I still have to mow the lawn one more time. Pastor Jean and I are trying to figure out Advent and especially Christmas (hey, we’ve got some ideas!) And then…on to 2021.
But I’m more than tired. I’m also embraced by a loving God whose generosity renews and restores me. And that generosity, given to me to be shared with others, is the basis of a new narrative that focuses not on “lil ol’ me,” but on my calling as a disciple of Jesus who sees in the “other” (even when the “other” is my adversary), a precious child of God. In my care and respect for the “other” I become God’s gift of generosity – and how cool is that?
And all of sudden, I’m not quite so tired anymore. And why is that?
Maybe because the generosity I share becomes the generosity I receive.