This is a reworking of an article written by Ian Anderson and published in the MUC Magazine in 2017. We feel that it is even more relevant today.
Living hopefully in troubling times
A meme doing the rounds on the internet at the moment that our daughters have shared with us, suggests that 2020 has started so badly – with bushfires, floods and the corona virus that we should call a halt to the year and start afresh with 2021 on Monday! One is tempted to say, “hear hear, let’s do it”! If only it were that simple!
COVID-19 has totally changed our sense of our world and most of us will feel that life, as we know it, is outside our control. We may have grave concerns for our own health, our families’ health and livelihoods, not to mention concern for the many people in the Centrelink queues we see nightly on the news, and the ever-growing worrying statistics of the disease. It may be causing us to feel stressed, dismayed, fearful, weighed down or even overwhelmed.
Even prior to the onset of the Coronavirus, we were besieged by negativity, much of which has been present for too long and was noted three years ago:
- The threat and politicisation of climate change and energy policy as so clearly demonstrated by our recent horrendous bushfires and aftermath
- The state of our Australian politics where governments and oppositions seem to prioritise party political and personal self-interest above the good of the nation eg the “sports rorts” affair
- Global politics and the resurgence of ultra-right politics in a ‘fake news’, post-truth environment e.g.the Christchurch Massacre
- Our continued abhorrent treatment of refugees and asylum seekers
- Our Government’s continued reluctance to engage meaningfully with our own Indigenous people by Treaty, and to address in constructive ways the major disadvantages faced by them
- Growing global and Australian inequality which is exacerbated, reinforced and entrenched by government policies
- Seemingly insoluble Middle-East conflict and the reappearance of Islamist fundamentalism and terrorism here and across the globe
- Unfair labour practices including the exploitation of vulnerable workers in Australia in ways that were once unthinkable in this so-called ‘land of the fair go’
- Housing unaffordability and the scandalous homelessness of more than 120,000 Australians, likely to be increasing in the present circumstances
Where then can we find hope in this world which, in so many respects, seems such a mess?
We need to be reminded that love is God and that wholeheartedly loving God and our neighbours is the cornerstone of our lives as Christians.
In this way of loving and living, there is hope. A quote from the Holy Habits Studies seems particularly pertinent in our present circumstances, “Endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us”. Hope that comes from a personal discipleship which, while not shutting out the negativity which besieges us, does not give in to or disengage from it. Instead as an antidote to what troubles us in our world, hope focusses on living positively, generously, compassionately and as constructively as our circumstances permit. Living in our families, our neighbourhoods and communities (as we are able at present), and our church, we can still be instruments for good. We can have a positive influence, either directly through our own actions and relationships or by continuing to support organisations which have greater resources and influence as forces for good.
We can also spend some time on our own personal growth and journey. This poem by Lyn Ungar, found on the https://progressivechristianity.org website this week, seems very helpful and positive for personal growth.
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
The following extract from the closing blessing of an Emerging Church service three years ago encapsulates this hopeful, positive, generous way of living which follows Jesus’ Great Commandment, benefits society, our MUC community and is good for us personally, even in these troubling times.
We leave with the blessing of mindfulness for people around us and for the issues in which we can make a difference. We leave with the blessing of peace, knowing that we cannot heal the ills of the whole world, but hopeful that those who can be healers will play their part. With those blessings, we continue the journey of our lives, guided by love.
Zoe (MUC) and Ian Anderson (KHUC)