Summary: The one thing to remember is this: whatever history may throw at us; today, tomorrow, next week, or next year, we don’t have to be afraid. We are precious in the Lord’s sight and he loves us.
The One Thing
September 25, 2005
This is the season of meetings. Our Annual Charge Conference is just around the corner and that means that we have to get all the reports finished: Trustees, Finance, Staff/Parish, Missions, and all the rest. I had a meeting every night this past week.
When I get home from these long days, I’m generally pretty tired. I take the time to check me e-mail one last time, let the dog out for her final romp through the back yard, brush my teeth, and hit the pillow.
That means that I missed the opening episode of the new season of “Lost” on Wednesday. I got hooked on that show last season. If you’ve seen it, you know that it’s about a bunch of people who get stranded on a deserted island when their plane crashes on a flight across the Pacific Ocean.
On the final episode of the season, the castaways found a hatch in the jungle with a ladder descending down into the depths. They were supposed to climb down into it this week, but I didn’t see it and so don’t have a clue what they found.
I think that “Lost” is a fitting metaphor for the times in which we live. We have named these times “Postmodern” because we have discovered that the modern times didn’t work out so well and didn’t provide us with the answers we sought to life’s hard questions.
We thought that modern medicine would be able to bring miraculous cures. While scientific inquiry has made incredible inroads in treating disease, it seems that new ones keep cropping up. AIDS is the one that is most on people’s minds. In just the last few years, we have been introduced to Mad Cow Disease and Avian flu. Despite the success in cancer research, it still remains a dread disease.
As dangerous as the Cold War was, it still provided a certain sense of reliability. The lines were pretty well drawn. We pretty much knew how the Soviet Union was going to react to things and they pretty much knew how we would react.
But the end of the cold war has brought a new level of tension in the world. The old problems have changed, and we haven’t yet found new solutions. It seems to me that in certain ways, the world is much more dangerous now than it was thirty years ago.
Technology has seen incredible breakthroughs. I remember the first church computer we got when I was Associate at Trinity Church in Huntington. It was a ten megabyte machine. We had all of our financial and attendance records on that computer and thought that we would never need another one. Why, we wondered, would we need more computing power than that? When I became pastor here, you bought a new computer for my study. It is a 120 gigabyte machine. We couldn’t even have imagined that in 1987.
I now e-mail our missionary in Zimbabwe. Maria Humbane and I can communicate instantaneously half-way around the world.
Still, for all of our advancements, we are in many ways more isolated than before. Instant messaging and e-mail has replaced face-to-face interaction. The modern world did not live up to its promises.
So in the post-modern world, we feel a little lost. We don’t quite know where to turn. We don’t really know what is around the next corner. We wonder what challenges will present themselves tomorrow and whether or not we will have the energy or ability to meet them.
Everyone reacts to the present times of uncertainty in a little different manner. We all are searching in our own special way for answers. What do you think about this as a post-modern prayer for salvation?
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cuisinart to keep.
I pray my stocks are on the rise, and that my analyst is wise.
That all the wine I sip is white, and that my hot tub’s watertight.
That racquetball won’t get too tough, that all my sushi’s fresh enough.
I pray my cordless phone still works, that my career won’t lose its perks.
My microwave won’t radiate, my condo won’t depreciate.
I pray my health club doesn’t close, and that my money market grows.
And if I go broke before I wake, I pray my Volvo they won’t take.
Those of us with even a nominal churched background, look for some heavenly sign of hope, some divine intention to intercede, and some evidence that God has not abandoned us.
In times like these we are drawn to eschatological speculation, or talk of the end times. This offers some comfort we think, because the end times promise that Jesus really is in charge of the universe and so offers some comfort in the midst of confusion. He offers us refuge for our feelings of being lost and left behind.