Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth!
If you had a chance to watch the Youth Sermon: How Their Story is Our Story, you will already know that I find this current season/situation that we are in as a bit disorienting. The news and landscape seems to change daily, and if you are like me, then you also are looking for God in the midst of all of this. Perhaps with or without much success.
For a while, I have been teaching youths that a mature Christian is someone that can “see God in all things and all things in God.” The ability to see God, to see Christ in everyone you meet or in every event of your life is an important skillset to have in your spiritual toolbox. How we see the world is an important indicator of our own spiritual maturity. In grad school I wrote a paper about how our human brains can’t help but organize the world into oppositional thinking, also known as “either/or” thinking.” I am not always a fan of either/or thinking, which is why I love to give you questions that demand an “either/or answer” just to show that we need to think more deeply about an issue or part of Scripture. Either/or thinking will also lead us down the path of saying God is either definitely the cause of this virus, or God is definitely not the cause of this virus. The reality might be more complex than that, and perhaps it means we need to be asking a DIFFERENT QUESTION altogether…
Rather than, “Did God cause this?”
We could ask, “How can God use this?”
If we believe that “all things work for the good of those who love him,” (Romans 2:28) then we have to wrestle with the question of, “How can this current situation be transformed into something that transforms us?”
I don’t know the answer to that right now. As time goes on, it might become more clear to us how this will change us… or at least reveal things to us that we have been frenetically avoiding.
All I know, is that right now, we are in process. All of our lives, the call to being a Christian is essentially a call to always being open to change. Any Christian that is not open to change, course-correction, transformation will likely have a very difficult time growing and cultivating the virtues and depth of soul that Christ wants for us.
Earlier today, I was leafing through a prayerbook that compiled famous quotes, poems and prayers from noteworthy Jesuits. (The Jesuit order founded the Wernersville Retreat Center, which our church goes to each year.) Below is a rather famous writing from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, an archaeologist and priest, that has stuck with me and bounced around within my soul the past little while.
Below is the short piece, take time to read every line. Do not rush it. Pay attention to the lines that strike you, and then mull it over to yourself about how it is that God might be speaking to you through even this short piece…
May Grace and Peace be with you,
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
– From Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Hearts on Fire