Thursday, January 13, 2011
Blog # 104 Keeping Warm in Winter
Blog # 104 Keeping Warm in Winter I don't think very many people if any would have difficulty in assessing our American culture in our current moment of history as predominantly secular and to a growing degree recently anti-God. Rowing upstream against the current is more difficult than floating in the other direction with the current carrying us along. With almost two thousand years of world history behind us, with almost instant communication with any place in the world at our disposal, we Christians are still a minority of the world's population and less than twenty-five percent of the population of the US. With the command of Jesus not only to know and love God above all but to share that knowledge and love with all the world, when you look out the windows of your home, your life, your soul in 2011 what do you see? What do you think of it? Is there anything you see that you can/should do about it? This morning, close to the middle of January with a rare snow and ice storm chilling us here in Augusta, I reflected upon the content of that first paragraph, using the problem of keeping warm in winter rather than rowing up or down the Savannah river. Here is how my reflection went. I shined my flashlight on the thermometer outside my bedroom window at 4:58. It was cold, below freezing. That was my observation. It was an important one relating to my health and comfort. I was planning to go out for a regular morning walk. I had no inclination to pray that the sun would come up and make it warm for me at that hour. I was fully aware of the sun's power to warm the earth, but also that it would not ordinarily do that in these circumstance and as this particular time. For me to hope or pray the secular culture around me would go away merely by prayer would hardly be a better response than to expect cold weather would go away by prayer alone. God, like the sun(God's sun!) has power to make things and people warm in the case of the sun, holy in the case of people. But this power, in both instances, is not exercised willy-nilly in contradiction to a plan and the truth about God's love. I had other options for my response to the cold. I could have decided to go back to bed. That would be like deciding to read only prayer books rather than also newspapers. I wanted the exercise so I looked for a different response. This was like desiring to remain current in my moment of history and facing the fact of the dominance of secularism in our American culture today. Secularism was as real as my desire to exercise in spite of the cold. I thought of the text of Scripture reminding me that I could not be the slave of both God and mammon. I could have cursed the cold. That too would certainly be ineffective for changing it to warmth and would be like failing to see and appreciate a definite though limited goodness in all of creation, in the secular order, in all but sin. I decided to wear a different hat, put on a scarf and gloves, and an extra sweatier and it worked out very well. I was warm, even in the cold. Our response to secularism can be as simple and as effective. Keep making observations. Check the thermometer. What is going on? Decide whether we want to go along with the current or not. to be cold or not, to be faithful or not. Take measures to counterbalance the cold, the secular influences and the sinfulness around us . Scarf, hat, gloves. Prayer, reflection, study. Let Christmas keep happening in our lives. Let Jesus be born in us each day, each time we choose the Father's will. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He is truth, a light shining in darkness. He is always inviting us to share His obedience to the Father's wisdom and love. That is His gift to us as we celebrate liturgical feasts and as we experience and share His love in Ordinary Time.