As I write to you today, we are all recovering from the violence and hysteria of yesterday’s acts of terrorism; it feels like just one more thing to make these days feel longer and harder than they should. And I imagine, we are, all of us, tired - if not feeling other things also.
So, what does our faith have to help us respond to the world around us now?
A lot, actually. But not all of it is what we probably want to hear.
I would love to exclaim words of judgement and condemnation, of chickens and roosting, of whirlwinds being reaped and vengeance both great and terrible. And those stories are in our texts, but they are not most of the texts, and certainly not in the story of Jesus; of God who came to us - spreading the word of God’s reign through word and deed beyond the people of Israel into the whole world. God in human form who comes to us and, as we will hear from the Gospel of Mark soon, says, “I have come to call the sinners.”
We, as a people, are meant to work for inclusion into the good, and leave judgement to the One with higher authority.
This is hard to do. And it's one of the reasons we need a community of faith to follow God. Sometimes it takes the presence of others - in any way - to help us in our faith and in our practice so that we can be the people God seeks us to be. Because living a life that reflects the faith we proclaim takes practice - over and over and over. And in the same way so many of us are finding out how much we need that other person around to help with our new year’s resolutions, the habits of faith are just as needful of support and encouragement.
Yesterday was not only a day of political misuse, it was also the day of Epiphany, when we recognize the community of scholars who, following a star, travelled across lands from the East to find the child lord. And this event begins the season of Epiphany, when we focus on baptism and the renewal of our lives of faith.
So, as this new year begins, I pray we may find ways to follow the star, as our Scriptures show us through the stories of Jesus, and that we may find in this church community, and in our networks of friends, neighbors, and family the accountability and connection it takes to live a life which reflects God’s grace and inclusion for all of us into the good.