The days are getting shorter. One of the trees just south of church has turned bright red and is beginning to drop its leaves. The aspens paint the mountainsides golden. Harvest season has come to our gardens and fields. Some things remind us of autumns gone by and others keep us from forgetting the challenging times in which we live. It is not an easy time to be alive. We need not look far to see struggle, suffering, loss, and pain. We carry our own grief as our lives and those of our families and communities are impacted by pandemic, fire, economic crisis, political divisions, and the peddling of fear on so many fronts.
And yet, we persist. We hold onto hope. I have said this before, but we need each other more than ever. And more than ever, the world needs us to be the church – to model love and forgiveness, courage and compassion, generosity and justice. It can be easy to either put our heads in the sand and ignore everything OR alternately to overwhelm ourselves with following the news cycle, steeping ourselves in the stories of devastation, fear, hatred and division.
But our faith and the Holy Spirit invite us to another way. Our faith and the Holy Spirit invite us to a way of hopeful engagement. To the way of spiritual grounding – where we are first and foremost focused on the divine within and all around us – in the beauty of autumn colors, the laughter of neighborhood kids, in a familiar face on video chat or the gentle touch of someone we love. The Holy Spirit is within us and She is all around us – in everything and everyone! From that grounding in Spirit, we can meaningfully and sustainably engage with the world. We do not ignore the pain, injustice, loss and violence, but as we look to those, we also recognize with compassion the pain, insecurity and fear that drive what we are seeing.
And, when we are spiritually grounded, these things will not overwhelm us. Instead, they will move us to compassion and loving action. It may be simple – a letter, a phone call, a prayer. And it may demand more of us – shifting behavior and habits, learning painful history, listening to a differing perspective, showing up in our own vulnerability. Engaging deeply with discernment for our congregation around welcome, inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ+ people. Donating produce or money to organizations that support people who are hungry or struggling to stay in their homes.
When we ground ourselves in God’s Spirit of love and truth, we don’t need to bury our heads in the sand. Because we know that all is not lost. That we are not in control. That love and hope, truth and justice cannot be extinguished. When we ground ourselves in God’s Spirit of love and truth, we do not need to be overwhelmed, because we understand that we can only start right where we are with who we are and what we have. And that our loving, compassionate action does not need to be everything. It is simply what we cannot help but doing because God’s love overflows through us.
Friends, let us seek God with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) and may we bring that we are and wait quietly before the Lord who is our hope (Psalm 62:5 New Living Translation),