Thursday, December 1, 2022

In the cold of winter. . .

Once we spent hours out of doors because we had to -- the old days when homes were not filled with screens and bins of toys.  The children spent much of their free time outside -- from the chores that were their duty to the leisure that they pursued as soon as jobs were done.  Now we have the situation in which people, especially children, are spending more and more time indoors and alone.  This is the fruit of another era -- the age of the pandemic when the outdoors were safer than indoor gatherings.  Winter was an age of cold, of snow, of steamy breath, and rushed feet.  Now it is an age of cold in another way.  People seem consumed by anger and the atmosphere of home, workplace, neighborhood, and community has cooled over the years to the point where rage seems epidemic.

As a pastor I know of and have experienced AND hear from our people the phenomenon of anger and rage as a new norm for adults but also for children.  Our sons and daughters seem consumed by rage and the news seems to support this conclusion.  Shootings or attempted shootings, assaults in the safe places such as schools, and the lack of targets or reasons for the violence all point to the increase of anger and bitterness that children and young adults seem unable to deal with all attest to this reality.  

Sadly, even congregations are not immune from conflict, anger, and dispute.  So many pastors and other church workers find themselves tested, burn out, and empty because of all the anger and rage that is in society at large but also seems to be typical in congregations as well.  Ask any District President and they will tell you the significant amount of time they spend trying to put out fires in congregations in their Districts.  Some find the congregation a safe place to vent -- since they probably won't ask you to leave no matter how outrageous you are and they tend to bend over backwards to make you happy.

Homes are not the safe places of acceptance and forgiveness they should be.  In our age, it is considered hypocrisy for husbands and wives who are parents to hide their own disputes and disagreements from their children.  Instead, we feel bound to be transparent to our children and let it all hang out -- no matter how harmful that is to children and their development.  How much of our own discontent and rage do we end up passing onto our children because we do not know how to deal with it?  For the Christian, this is the failure of repentance and the lack of clear focus on absolution.

Rage, anger, dispute, contentiousness, and the like are the natural fruits of sin -- sin unabated by either a civil righteousness that offers a veneer of public politeness and decorum OR untouched by the blood of Christ that forgives sin and reconciles sinners.  We have seen a lot of this.  It was there before Trump and will be there long after his name is forgotten.  You cannot blame the lack of civility and common courtesy upon any one individual but it is the certain outcome of a sinful humanity unhitched by anything that would restrain the rage or resolve it by Christ's own work of absolution and reconciliation.  The cold of winter is less about the temperature or the weather but about the cold character of humanity in the winter of our discontent -- without a sense of public face to restrain us or the blood of Christ to contain that anger and deliver peace.  Get ready for things going south even further in this area....

1 comment:

Timothy Carter said...

Hard words, Pastor. The World is indeed fill of hard, cold, lonely things...if we do not look to God for the comfort of His Primroses.
All the more reason to remember the promise of the Holy Spirit to counter bad feelings: The fruit of the Holy Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Gentleness, Kindness, Patience Faithfulness and Self-Control.
Part on my Daily Prayers is that I would hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and, through the Holy Spirit, to show the world that the Holy Spirit is planting Faith in me...working in me that I may serve God and serve my neighbors.
Timothy Carter, simple country Deacon. Kingsport, TN.