You may think this is a terrible way to open a meditation so close to the joyful holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this is an important time to recognize the sadness and fear of many of our friends and neighbors and, if we’re honest enough to admit it, even of ourselves. These forays into the valley are what Pastor Judy in the newsletter of the Smith Mills Christian Congregational Church calls “overwhelming.” “This sense of being unable to help others can make us despondent and less likely to try,” she says, but then adds, “It’s important to remember that we are not alone.”
Indeed, it’s true. We are members of the body of Christ, the church called by his name, brothers and sisters by adoption into the family of God, and brothers and sister of one another. As part of a worldwide family, we can be encouraged by Jesus’ words from The Message version of the scripture: “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart, I have conquered the world.”
Our Christian churches, with the support each person provides, make it possible to reach out to troubled areas without enormous overhead cost—many times through volunteers already present in the area and through contacts already established. That’s the family at work. Comfort and hope arrive through the church in places no one else thinks of. Hang on to hope and faith. Sometimes it’s all we can do. Often it’s enough.
Emily Dickinson’s poem encourages us in hope. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the song without the words, and never stops at all. Combine that with faith in God and trust in Jesus’ promise. That’s what we have to rejoice in this season.
There are little one-person things that can be done by each of us as well. Pastor Judy encourages her church, and us, “Instead of becoming paralyzed, let us go out and do one thing - donate one can of food, drive one person to church” or to the doctor, or shopping. Read one book to a child, or a blind person, make one phone call to cheer someone’s day. While we wish we could do more, easing one person’s life makes a difference. It may not seem like something so small could change things, but remember, our Jewish sisters and brothers tell us that saving one person is saving the world.
We are not alone. God and his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all promised to be with us wherever we go. “Fear not. I am with you. Even to the end of the world.” And if you feel you can do nothing, pray, “with supplication,” the apostle Paul tells us, “and with Thanksgiving.”
“Give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks that he has given Jesus Christ, his son. And now let the poor say I am rich, let the weak say I am strong because of what the Lord has done for us. Give Thanks.”
We began this meditation paying attention to the things in this world that trouble and threaten to overwhelm us, but we have eternal promises that will serve as encouragement and that will give us strength and hope. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor at the Halifax Union Society in Halifax.