Spirit Alive: Trying to Make Sense of 2017?
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
December 26, 2017
With Heart, Soul, and Mind:
In the End, Spirituality Trumps Politics"Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable."
Merry Christmas! This is that special time of year when we gather with family and friends to celebrate the season, welcoming the birth of Jesus into our world and inviting his spirit into our lives. But it is also a good time to step back and consider what it means to follow this "Child-King" in our context today.
As the ancient travelers did long ago, I too have been pondering the meaning of these annual celestial events, wondering what they portend for our times. Recently Susan and I went to Trinity Episcopal
Could it be that Jesus' birth this year returns us to this distant, oppressive world in which Mary and
Instead, we find ourselves battered by other choruses sharing news of strangers and immigrants living in fear, of the poor and homeless being pushed further to the margins of health and well-being in our society, of women confronting sexual harassment and abuse in epidemic fashion, and of the rich being given extensive new benefits that will lead to even more wealth at the expense of those in need. This is not music to the ears of those of us who would prefer to sing "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Joy to the World," or "Away in the Manger."
Yes, these are troubling times indeed! So what are the followers of Christ to do in times that are so out of step with Jesus' message of hope, love, and peace among all? How shall we ground ourselves spirituality? What should our mission and ministry look like as 2018 begins? My friends, it is time to get back to spiritual basics and ask ourselves who we are...and whom we want to be.
As I prepared to open my Christmas gifts this year, I couldn't help but think about Jesus' teachings
But today there are those who would have us believe that the world works best when things trickle down from top to bottom, from wealth to poverty, from those who have to those who do not. Jesus, as the newborn king then and now, declares a very different way of living, which threatens those in power by
So this Christmas, I want to ask you a simple question that I've been pondering this season: How is it with your soul ? This is the question that preoccupied John Wesley's life. As the year draws to a close, it seems like as good a time as any to consider this fundamental question...both as individuals and as a nation.
The news these days centers on the many traumas and dramas of politics, but the real crisis centers on spirituality and matters of the heart. On one level, isn't this the very essence of the Christmas story? We wander to Bethlehem and find ourselves being asked to replace one worldview with another...to ground our spirit in a new way of being...to see greatness as being the movement from one's soul out into the world...toward our neighbors, not away from them nor into ourselves.
So how is it with our collective souls this Christmas?
As I've thought about this I've been especially moved by the women who have courageously addressed sexual harassment and joined the #Me Too movement. I've been inspired by the witness of DACA students and other immigrants who are standing up and speaking out for their dreams and love of this country in spite of the prejudices they face. These acts of public witness come from a place deep within. This is why they command such power...and make us pause in amazement and gratitude. These testimonies remind us of our common humanity and the need to listen and learn from each other if we are ever to rediscover and reclaim our souls.
There is work ahead of us in 2018. But, as people of faith, we know how to respond, and we even know where to look. It starts in the human heart...and it begins with us.
John Wesley said: "God grant that I may never live to be useless." In terms of spirituality, perhaps the hymn "Let There be peace on earth, and Let It Begin with Me," says it best...quite simply, if spirituality is to trump politics, it must begin with me...and us! Ultimately, it must lead us into the public square toward our neighbors.
The ancient teacher Lao Tzu put it this way:
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good life...
Let us walk in the light of God's love,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at firstname.lastname@example.org