Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things. You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:1,4,5,8,9
Two men were hiking in the mountains on the edge of timberline. A storm was brewing with the certainty of lightning and hail. One looked at the storm brewing overhead and said, “I’m terrified.” The other looked up the trial and spotted the cabin that was their destination and said, “There is nothing to fear.”
I know I’ve talked a lot in my homilies for the last couple of weeks about focusing on the peace and safety of our destination rather than on the turmoil of the daily news cycle. Don’t get me wrong. I read the news every day. I want to know what is going on. However, that is not my focus. I choose to focus my mind and heart on the peace of God’s ever abiding presence, not the destruction and violence of those who have lost sight of God.
There is a great deal of mistrust, alienation, and anger being vented right now. People have lost faith in their government, law enforcement, their health, and the economy. But is that where their faith should have been in the first place? As in Jesus’ parable, when the house is built on sand, the storms will wash it away.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
God’s presence never falters. So much of this unrest is caused by alienation, that leads to anger, that leads to violence. The murder of George Floyd was the spark that ignited the current flame, but the fire has been raging for centuries, even millennia. At some point we need to stop fanning the flame and start dousing the fire.
His Truth never fails. Jesus lived in a world of great unrest. His homeland was occupied by a foreign army. Civil unrest was commonplace. The typical police response was to nail people to crosses. An historian of the period noted how a thousand people were crucified in a single day. Amid this turmoil Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44.
The path to peace in this turmoil is prayer. Pray for the alienated and the angry. Pray for the police. Pray for the civic and political leaders who need inspiration to lead those in their charge to greater safety and harmony. Mostly, let us pray that God cleanse our own hearts of fear, anger, prejudice, and judgment so that we can cease being part of the problem and become part of the solution.
Yours in Christ,