In a blog for the New Year, Amy Butler, Senior Pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, reflects on the transition from the old to the new. In her column, entitled “Goodbye, 2017. Won’t Miss You Much,” she reflects on all the trouble that 2017 brought to us as people of faith. I won’t re-hash her reflection. You can read it for yourself at https://baptistnews.com/article/goodbye-2017-wont-miss-much/#.Wk2HeN-nGUl. But I do want to consider one brief paragraph from the middle of her piece. She summarizes, “In short, 2017, you have shaken us awake to deep problems that have always been present but are now undeniably urgent, requiring all of us to wake from complacency and decide if we will have the courage to live what we believe. Thanks a lot, 2017. No, really … thank you. We now see more clearly the critical work ahead of us, and each of us has a decision to make about what will happen in 2018.”
You’ve heard and read enough of my own griping and grieving this past year to know that I share Amy’s perspective. 2017 “woke” many of us to deep-seeded difficulties in this world in which we live. In particular, 2017 surfaced the breadth and depth of racism, xenophobia, sexism (including harassment and assault,) homo-hatred, and pure meanness that lay just below the surface of our society and was dormant but present in the life-stream of our culture. The pressing question is not one of making “America great again.” The more urgent concern is whether we might be kind, considerate, humane, decent, compassionate, loving – those qualities, which we as people of faith claim as our legacy. Are their ways in which can infuse these qualities into our social fabric and our cultural structures?