Who do you turn to?
Ok, I'm going to date myself and let you know I've lived a fairly long life. I still like the Beatles. Growing up in the 60s, their songs resonated with me and millions of people around the world, and they still do today. Their song "Let It Be" (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) spoke to a tumultuous generation with a calming influence that was needed. It was needed, if not on the streets of our cities as people protested politics and war and poverty (sound familiar?), then certainly in people's hearts. Perhaps some of you remember their song "Let it Be" begins with the sincere statement "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.." Powerful words in their simplicity, deeply meaningful words in their truth. My Roman Catholic brothers and sisters for sure can relate to the spiritual significance to turning to Mother Mary, Jesus' earthly mother. And certainly She has spoken wonderful words of love to the ages.
During this season of Lent in the Christian Church, it's not a bad idea for everyone to set aside some time of self-reflection on one's relationship with our Creator God. For we Christians, we do this in preparation for celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter. In the world today it's an appropriate time for each of us to reflect on the distrust, cynicism, poverty and violence that's prevalent, and evaluate it all. What's happening, what do we believe, and who can we turn to for guidance, strength and deliverance from so much darkness?
I wish I knew the answer to the question, "what's happening in our world?" Life seems more hectic, more violent, more out of control, doesn't it? Is it, or is it that it just seems that way because our highly technological media reports worldwide catastrophes as if they're happening in our own back yards. And we have become a people who first seeks to lay blame at the foot of someone or some institution so that we can then effect a solution to supposedly ensure that whatever happened doesn't happen again. And when all else fails we can blame the government, or the schools, or the disintegration of the family. But what does any of this arguing and blame-placing get us? It appears we don't find resolutions, so we just engage in more arguing and finger-pointing (and in the process we teach our children to do the same.) Maybe, just maybe, the answer lies less in finger-pointing and arguing, and more in figuring out who God created us to be, but on a personal level: "who did God create me to be?"
What do we, you and I, believe? That's the question; "What do I believe?" And in the answer, I believe that every one of us can find peace in our hearts in a chaotic world. Every one of us can become who God created us to be.
To do this, (I'm going to get preach-y here!) I believe that we need to turn to the one who can save us from ourselves, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Scripture tells us he came to save the lost. Isn't that the whole world and everyone in it? How are we lost? (Please re-read paragraph three above.") We're "lost" when we debate protecting children in schools, instead of protecting children in schools. We're "lost" when we argue with government officials about their efforts, instead of, in our democracy, voting them out of office. We're "lost" when we don't realize that behind every major issue in our land and in our world, it's not the other political party nor the other race nor the other government agency, but it's what's behind those issues being discussed: greed, power and prestige, all sought to the detriment of other people, people like you and me who also were created by God.
I don't know who you turn to in times of trouble, but I know who we should turn to. The answer is found in a popular hymn in many churches in the world today. The lyrics go like this: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace." [United Methodist Hymnal #349] This is simply saying that when we turn to the Lord, we're focusing on the right things. Interestingly, the last verse of the Beatle's song "Let It Be" is quite similar. It begins "And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me; Shine until tomorrow, let it be."
What does this say to us? When we turn to God we can see the light of the world, and that can lead us to where God wants us to be, and where we desire to be as well. There's too much darkness in the world these days. I believe everyone needs to pause and reflect on ourselves and how we are living in this world. The hard question is: "Am I contributing to the darkness, or am I contributing to the light?" When we turn to God, his Son Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit, or Christ's earthly mother, Mary, our lives can and will change for the better. We will be living in the light of God, and that's a good thing.
Rick Carpenter is the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Dolores and the First United Methodist Church in Dove Creek.