Was anybody else thinking that the craziness of 2020 would end with 2020? I know I was thinking/hoping/praying that 2021 would be better than the constant insanity of 2020. I was hoping that COVID-19 would be lessening, not increasing! I was hoping that the riots that plagued Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, New York, and Washington, D.C., would be ending — not growing into an even bigger one on Jan. 6. Though the dates have changed, it seems that 2020 is still with us.
Are you, like many, asking (again) what God is up to? Are you wondering what this is all about and what’s next? There were points during 2020 where I just did not want to watch the news. I didn’t want to know what craziness was happening where, why, and for how long. I didn’t. Though that’s a natural response — and maybe at times healthy — it’s not always helpful. Some feed off the 24-hour news cycle on health, safety, justice, environmental, political, economic and military updates. Some find time in the wilderness a greater elixir for body and soul.
What are we to do? Go forth and argue, argue, argue as the good book doesn’t say. Hide in the woods, a popular pastime here in Alaska. If you’re like me, you hide until the vast swarms of mosquitoes chase you out. (By the way, I haven’t missed mosquitoes one little bit all winter!)
There are things that we can do. Things that give perspective and things that help and make a difference. For one thing we can recognize Jan. 6 for what it is. For centuries the church calendar has marked the sixth of January as Epiphany: the day Wise Men from the East followed yonder star to visit the baby Jesus. To be clear, these wise men were not Christians. In fact, Jesus, Joseph and Mary were not Christians. Neither were the early disciples. All were Jews. Remember Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in accordance with their faith tradition. The Wise Men arrive later asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
What does this mean for us today in Interior Alaska? It means that Jesus was not just for the Jewish people, but for everyone — even people from thousands of miles away (like us). Jesus is for all.
How can we make a difference? Is it through riots, conflicts, arguments or through retreat into the wilderness? I am here to say that there’s a third option and it’s one that actually helps.
Some folks in our nation (and our beautiful part of it) are suffering. Some are lonely and depressed. Some (adults and children) are hungry and hopeless. Together we can all make a positive difference. We can help the Fairbanks Food Bank, The Door 24-hour youth shelter; we can donate to the Salvation Army and Love INC. We can call and ask how we can help. We can also call our friends and neighbors and check in with people. You won’t catch COVID-19 from phone calls, text messages and emails.
Shortly following the election in November, I wrote an article aptly titled by the editors, “We are not enemies, but friends,” from the opening words of President Lincoln’s first inaugural address given March 4, 1861. The words remain true: We are not enemies, but friends! Even with our differences, let us make a difference with the people around us and live together as friends in 2021 and beyond.
The Rev. Stephen K. Reed, Pastor, St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall, chaplain, police & fire.
This Insight Article is sponsored by Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Faith Section on January 15, 2021
Married 26 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting