There is a fever rising in our nation and in our world. It is a fever causing good people turning on good people. We are seeing fear and war-mongering preached where cooperation and consideration once roamed alongside idealism and optimism. We are seeing the almighty dollar placed in priority above decisions that could decisively help the least among us in society and the world. We are seeing some who would purvey hatred in the guise of reasonable rhetoric.
But we labor on.
Like Jesus and his earliest disciples, we labor on.
Like Simon’s mother in law once she was healed of her fever, we get up once we see that we have been healed and we labor on.
And we all need healing from the fever, don’t we? We all need healing in one way or another. We need Jesus to come and cast out our demons of smallness and always-thinking-we-are-rightness and replace them with a singularity of purpose to spread the love and light of that same Christ Jesus.
If we belittle and insult those who spew hatred then we become as little as them. Yet if we can be healed of the fever of hatred then we become an antidote to the fever coursing in the veins of this world-wide system of humanity in which we live. We can become the antibodies to fight the infection and to suffuse the system with hope and healing.
Yes, we must embark on an alternate course from hatred. We must divest ourselves of hatred and instead allow God in Christ to invest within us and within our families, our faith communities and our schools and political systems the seeds of hope and healing, forgiveness, and wisdom. We must head for the higher road, where Love and Charity turn our grief at the ills of the world into steel, forged in the fires of determination to breath compassion into the decision making of our individual and collective lives. We have been sent as emissaries of the Light to all people – even those purvey and pursue hate as their aphrodisiac.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?” the prophet Isaiah cries out to us.
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth…who stretches out the heavens like a curtain…who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing…28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:22-23, 28-31)
Yes, we look to this God of who Isaiah writes, this God of the Israelites who is also our God and then, then we will run and not grow weary. We will mount up like eagles to rise above the base human instincts that, in the midst of challenges rife and real, turn into fear and protectionism; and we will shower the seeds of hope to build trust across differences of perception and opinion and we will participate in God sowing the possibility of a future in which the generations to come can build a more just and equal world and peace-filled world.
Our Lord Jesus did not stand idle even when he was tired and neither will we. We will not stand idle while idle words encourage good people to ignore their neighbors in New Paltz and Nairobi, the Hudson Valley or Haiti.
Our God is an expansive God whose ever-growing love humbled itself on the cross in order that mercy and love and compassion might be expanded to fill every corner of this world where fear - even our own fear - seeks to multiply and draw good people under its sway. And like a mother hen who chastises her chicks and then brings them to roost under her wings, God almighty will bring a halt to hatred and in fighting and bring us all under the warm reassurance of those ever-living wings of mercy.
Then can we take our rightful place alongside our sisters and brothers of every God-blessed beautiful shape and variety, of every race and creed and see that we are all longing for the same things. We are all longing for food and a modicum of security, we are longing for shelter and education and the chance to build a better world. We are longing for the demons to be cast out from our midst. And we are all longing for peace.
Yet this peace cannot be achieved by sitting back and waiting for someone else to do something. At every time in history it has been through deep listening and consideration coupled with decisive and compassionate action that led the human race to embody the best of what we, with God’s help, can be.
As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I became all things to all people so that some of them might be saved,” and by this he means trying to understand the lives and experience of others, their culture and context. So who will we become like this week in order to ensure that God’s compassionate heart in us is enlarged? Who will we seek to understand so that the pathways of understanding might be enlarged within us for the sake of sharing and shining Christ to others in this world?
Some of us will come alongside our neighbors at the high school for a panel to combat racism and others will be working on ways to meet the grief that is turning young people in our community to take their own lives and others are already at work on ways to feed the hungry and house the homeless and accompany the immigrant in need. Yet all of us need to also look for those who do not think like us and let God help us forge the path to understanding one another. We must each look for opportunities – for God is surely carving out opportunities for each us to come alongside those whom we have perhaps vilified so that God’s love might be exemplified through our efforts to build bridges and relationships for a brighter future.
If we long for peace on earth then we must participate with God in building peace on earth. If we long for better days then we must labor in the famished fields to build those better days. And when our hearts are weary we must gather closer together and more frequently to sing the hymns, pray the prayers and sup again at the table of everlasting life, drawing strength for the next leg of the journey.
And we labor on.
We labor on.