St. John’s Baptist Church

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Living Into the Future – On Purpose

Beloved, as you emerge from the perils of this pandemic, you are making a difference. Even if you have anxiety in this complicated and dysfunctional world, you are still punching holes in darkness revealing God’s eternal light. You are embodying the hope and joy of God through continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Lord of your commitment and discipleship. As we continue to emerge out of the isolation of this pandemic, we are confronting fears, addressing miseries, opposing oppressions, and lifting people above injustices. We may not erase all evil or eradicate all actions of injustice. But as part of the people of God in this age, we refuse to express cynicism or complacency. We are people of Active Faith. 

Over the past two years, variations of evil have exploded on our screens. Yet, we are doing more today about injustice, conflict, poverty, racism, despair, and inequality than ever before in human history. We have more resources to construct justice, peace, prosperity, etc. than ever. That said, I still speak with persons who can feel overwhelmed by the vast needs of today’s world. Our capacity for instantaneous communications with an increasing global population brings us video replay to watch the murder of George Floyd over and over.

Through live satellite images, we can see Russian tanks roll into Ukraine. Through instant messaging, we can learn our neighbor’s house was just burglarized or there was a shooting at a mall. We can also feel overwhelmed by what seems like an unending gushing of human suffering. One reason we hear of vast suffering is the exponential increase of population.

For example, when the charter members of St. John’s first gathered in 1922, here were the reported populations:

  •    World – less than 2 billion; USA – 110 million; and Charlotte – 46,000 (size of Hickory today).

This month, as we become the Charter Members of St. John’s Second Century, here are the reported populations:

  •    World – almost 8 billion; USA – 330 million; and Charlotte – 925,000.

With this many more people locally and globally we can expect more diversity and complexity. We should also anticipate more evil and more opportunities to shine God’s light. Let us acknowledge that the past two years have ushered many of us into what is called, ‘an existential crisis.’ This term describes a temporary or transitional phase of disequilibrium. Unexpected levels of isolation and disconnection accompanied by emotions of fear and questions about our place in the world can cause us to readjust our approach to meaning, reset our boundaries and cause us to reconsider many foundational commitments. 

Last Sunday, I told the story of my Aunt Veda. She grew up in poverty during the depression and entered adulthood during a period of war. Yet, she yearned to make more than an income; she wanted to make a difference. She wanted to connect her life with the purposes of God’s mission and often asked herself, “What can I do?” We understand Veda’s question. When we look at all the needs in today’s world, we often ask, “What can I do?” As one individual or as one congregation, what can we do? In next week’s article, I will offer some pathways for you to consider.

On Sundays, March 13, 20 and 27, my messages will speak to these opportunities. Meanwhile, I ask that you consider one question: