11-8-19 - Live Wires

(You can listen to this reflection here.)

Our reflections this week have been bouncing off a conversation recorded over 2,000 years ago, about heaven, resurrection, life after death. I explore such writings as part of my ministry. But does anyone else care about these ancient debates – what kind of bodies will carry our souls, if any; in what kind of community will we gather after death; when will the end times be? Are these just “first century problems,” or universal?

If thinking about these matters leads to anxiety, don’t. If it leads to what Paul in Thessalonians calls God’s gift of “eternal comfort and good hope,” then explore it. If dwelling on heaven can make us more peaceful and joyful and hopeful and engaged here and now, bring it on.

81 years ago, the world witnessed Kristallnacht, that night in 1938 when the Nazis unleashed across Germany and Austria the fury against Jews that would culminate in the horrors and devastations of the Holocaust. On November 9-10, hundreds of synagogues were burned, shops looted, homes and people terrorized. My father was a Jewish 13-year-old in Vienna at the time. He lived through it. I can’t even imagine the terror that struck a population who knew the Nazi presence in Austria wasn’t good, but still hoped Austrian leaders would successfully avoid annexation by the German Reich. I can’t imagine the fear and rumors and degradations and deprivations my father and thousands others endured.

But then, I can’t imagine living in Syria or El Salvador or any number of places where terror like that can and does strike at any moment, where everything that has been normal about life is torn away and survival becomes your only goal. What difference does heaven or resurrection make when you’re living in hell?

Here’s what I think: If I have the freedom to reflect on that question, I am called to be part of the solution. I am called to look up from my “first world problems” and help intervene in situations before they turn deadly, or be present with survivors if the horror has already come. I cannot look away – I have to turn toward the frightful and the frightened. I don’t have to address every situation – only the ones the Spirit leads me to. But I do not have the leisure to look away. I am called to look with God’s eyes, to love with God’s heart, to act in God’s power, conducting that power into the human realm (the second part of my churches’ new mission statement, which we will address on Sunday.)

Where in the world are you being called to intervene through prayer, donation, advocacy, action? Where in your city or community are you being called to intervene? It might be with domestic violence agencies, organizations working to end and alleviate homelessness and poverty, or human rights groups –Amnesty International, United to End Genocide, the International Rescue Committee.

Where in your personal life is God calling you to conduct God’s power into human life? That power comes with a whole lot of other gifts, healing, peace, even joy. We are the conduits through which God works in the world now. What will you do with the resurrection life running through you?Are you ready to be a live wire?

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