More than anything we need a choir of angels coming from somewhere to sing for us again that gospel refrain, “Do not be afraid.” Because everywhere I look and read, people are fearful.
Republicans are afraid of the secular socialists and think the 2020 election is their last best hope for saving America. Democrats are afraid of Trump Nation and think the same election is their only way to keep the United States from falling into totalitarianism.
Greta Thunberg is Time’s “Person of the Year” because she travels the world giving speeches about the dismal future of the earth. Those that are not listening to her are buying a million guns a minute to protect themselves from crocodiles, thieves, and the FBI.
The United Methodists are about to implode because half of them are afraid of homosexuals and the other half are afraid of the first half. “What will happen if those people run the church?” they moan, each to their own kind.
Of course, some Catholics are afraid of what their Church is becoming under the leadership of Pope Francis, and others are afraid of what will happen if their fearless leader dies or resigns or is assassinated.
Some people want the Wall because they are afraid of Guatemalan mothers and their school age children; and others want the Purge to keep too many black people voting.
Rod Dreher wrote in his 2017 best seller: “As I traveled … speaking about the Benedict Option … I met scores of concerned—even anguished—Christians worried about a future far more uncertain than they imagined even a few years ago…. One clear theme emerged from countless conversations: fear that their young adult children will abandon the Christian faith.”
Others are afraid, of course, that the Court Evangelicals are going to take over the country and impose their brand of morality and meaning on all of us.
Retired military and diplomatic people testify to their fears of armed conflict breaking out somewhere in the world and, of course, television programs pick this up as good copy and beam their anxiety into our homes.
It doesn’t get much airtime because people around the country are picking up guns and shooting people—some of it random but some of it premeditated targeting of racial and religious minorities that “threaten me”.
Running through my head are the old songs, like “Don’t go ‘round tonight for it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bad moon on the rise.” And “Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy and … You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.” I am sure there are new songs out there somewhere that are peddling those same anxious wares.
Remember when Pope John Paul II wrote his signature piece and entitled it, Crossing the Threshold of Hope? And then he shocked the world and resigned! And retreated into the shadows, perhaps not as hopeful as he thought!
And there is the ultimate sign of fear: the epidemic of suicide. A friend wrote today: “While waiting for dinner out, a celebrity noticed us! And spoke to us! What a nice surprise for the season. Last month he took his life. Who can imagine what despair lurks behind every face, every heart.”
Years ago, when I was a college student, I attended a retreat. I recall nothing of what was said or sung, but I remember the book I read entirety while standing by the table because I had no money to purchase anything. Elton Trueblood, writing during the Cold War after influenza, world wars, depression, holocaust, and communism: Signs of Hope in a Century of Despair.
Somebody needs to write that book again. Or publish the poem. Or compose the song. About hope.
Somebody someway needs to remind of us of diseases eradicated, wealth distributed, freedoms gained, wounds healed, explorations shared, votes cast, walls destroyed, technologies invented, strangers welcomed, prejudices countered, friendships formed, and yes, fears overcome.
Somebody needs to tell us again that old story, of unwed parents far from home, no family, friends, or benefactors, ordinary people manipulated by an evil empire and its cruel lackies, forced to give birth on the street, so to speak: people with much to fear and more to lose, who heard time and time again the repeat of those words, “Do Not Be Afraid.”
Somebody needs to sing a song of hope. Somebody. Maybe you. Maybe me. Maybe all of us.
There will be no Meetinghouse during Christmas week