Day One: December 2020

This month’s “Day One” post comes after the “In-Sight” post because I wanted the December “In-Sight” to be about Advent. So, I posted it on November 28th. If you have not seen it, it’s the one immediately before this one on the Oboedire home page.

This “Day One” post has not been easy to write. There is so much going on it’s difficult to focus. But I come to the first of December with a mixture of concern and hope. That’s probably the way we live all the time, but given the way things are right now, the duality is more obvious.
My concern is that the pandemic, the election, and other things reveal how divided we are.

There has never been a time when we had no differences. But right now, our differences have become wedges driven between us. I am caught up in this as much as anyone else, and here on the first of December I am at a loss to know how to change things.

Putting this concern into theological language, I would say we are a people in need of wisdom. Our knowledge is insufficient, with too much of it driven by the superficiality of social media commentary and too much of it contaminated by fake information. We have become people too prone to believe lies…and pass them on.

Donald Trump is the national example of this (one both Republicans and Democrats are increasingly acknowledging) with a self so broken that he has to create a fantasy land to sustain it. There is nothing sadder than only being able to survive by lying. Watching him, we clearly see that living apart from truth is dangerous. Falsehood leads to delusion and to divisiveness. Falasehood creates madness. Donald Trump is a madman.

Our day cries out for wisdom—that is, truth discovered by discernment and disseminated through maturity. I am concerned that we lack wisdom.

But at the very point where I am concerned, I am also hopeful. For in the midst of our need, I see a people rising—people honest enough to confess that “business as usual” is not working, and that the status quo, turned sacred cow, is not a state to be continued. I am hopeful because a growing number of people are “done” with perpetuating things that hamper and harm life, and are now “asking, seeking, and knocking” for something more. This song from Les Miserables describes the stirring of the human spirit taking place,

“Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the plough-share,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Will you be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes…

Tomorrow comes!” [1]

History knows times like this, times when change is not only needed, but times when it comes. It is what Isaiah called God doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). It is the moment when people catch the vision of what God is up to and enlist themselves to be instruments through whom the Spirit can work to bring it to pass. It is moving forward, putting our hands to the plow of transformation, and not looking back. It is a time when we cross the bridge of confidence, moving away from being imprisoned by lies to being guided by truth. It is a time inspired by hope.

This is the time I see dawning today, December 1, 2020. I want to be part of it, and help bring it to pass. I imagine that you do too.

[1] “Freedom Song” (Finale), Les Miserables

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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