‘Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.
As I sit to write, it is the month of January, we are in the midst of a virulent second wave of the pandemic, vaccine rollout has begun, the US has elected a President and the world is suffering and in pain. The difficult and unprecedented events of the past year have exposed areas of society where the most vulnerable are suffering, the oppressed are not heard, essential workers are risking their lives, often for little pay and many of us are feeling exhausted with the on going restrictions keeping us from friends and loved ones. So much is going on that needs to change and as our Primate Linda Nichols pointed out in her New Years letter, “The societal shifts needed are overwhelming and lead to a sense of powerlessness and grief.”*
No wonder we are tired!
As we acknowledge the pain and suffering of the world and share it with those in our midst we are challenged to make a difference ‘just one step at a time’. Can we commit to becoming aware of our behaviors and attitudes, what we say and what we do? Are we seeing our neighbors and how we inhabit our environment in new ways? Are we perhaps wondering what changes we can make to how we live? Thankfully, we do know that God keeps promises and answers prayers, so we might ask God in prayer, for the desire to live intentionally so that others might live well too. Every step big and small makes a difference; ‘one act of mercy; one recognition of injustice we oppose; one letter of advocacy for change; one refusal to be complicit with a racist comment,* all create momentum for change. We can make a difference ‘one step at a time’ with God’s help as our Baptismal covenant reminds us.
In seeing little ways to make changes as we go about taking up the discipleship call to participate in the bringing about of the Kingdom of God, so too we can commit to noticing little things that bring us joy. Often the small things, when noticed for the first time, bring peace and a smile. Stopping in these these moments for prayers of gratitude and hope can carry us through times of despair and trial. Lately, in my yard at dusk, I have seen and heard the calls of two great horned owls. Listening carefully, I hear that each call has a slightly different tone. I am told they are mating calls. Also watching an amaryllis bulb grow two stalks supporting more than eight blooming buds is truly a delight and a joy! These among so many natural wonders of creation bring joy and sustenance for the dreary times. God is truly at work midst all the mess and muddle in the world!
As we go forward prayerfully into 2021 living intentionally ‘one step at a time’ towards fulfilling God’s vision for a world of healing and hope, let us remember Hebrews 12:1 that we do not go alone:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
*Primate Archbishop Linda Nichols, Anglican Church of Canada, Ministry Matters January 1, 2021.