Conspiracy theories, alternate realities, rash prophecies, disinformation, and big lies are ancient techniques used to create fear—and subsequently claim the only solution to calm it—thus gaining followers. While disturbing in the sociopolitical sphere, I find these especially troubling when supported, spread, or believed by those representing Jesus. How do I respond? What do I focus on amid the myriad speculations, half truths and fake news?
At times, I don’t know how to pray for the world around me. The needs seem too complex, too convoluted. Relationships are conflicted and the church wars against itself. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus—Mary of Nazareth's other son—prayed for the recipients of his letter to have mercy, peace, and love in abundance. This seems like a good place to start.
Anxious, frustrated, and appalled. Relieved, hopeful, and excited. I have felt all of these in the past weeks. The pandemic creeps closer into my circle of colleagues. Relationships struggle for lack of face to face connection. Safety vanishes. Leaders disappoint. Yet medical breakthroughs encourage. Change brings hope. Surprisingly encouragement comes through learning that I am called, loved, and kept. Sounds lovely, but what does it mean?
The desire to figure everything out, to fully understand, and make sense of my world is strong in me. However the events in our nation's capitol last week proved that even more fleeting than the loss of control over my schedule and calendar (due to a pandemic) is any control I thought I had over the beliefs and actions of others. Four guiding truths emerged as I pondered a quote from Emily P. Freeman.
I am an aunt to some lovely young women and men. I have cultivated individual relationships with them and enjoy my unique role in their lives. Being their aunt gives me a certain advantage over their mothers.
Today we head into the final week of waiting for our annual celebration of the birth of Mary’s son, Jesus. We expectantly anticipate the coming—the Advent—of the Son of the Most High as she did. During each week of Advent, I focused on finding the traditional Advent themes in Mary's story.
“Cancer, most likely stage four,” announced the email. Since older women compose the majority of my Bible study group, a notification of someone’s hospitalization was not unusual. But this one? She seemed too young, healthy, and vibrant.
Three weeks after we evacuated to Bali to escape the riots on Lombok Island, we returned to our home. On my desk I found my abandoned letter to my parents from January 17, the day the riots broke out. My last words on the unfinished page read, "We are not terribly alarmed, just being careful." I picked up where I left off.