Someone asked me the other day why I haven’t said much about the terror attacks in Israel or the Israeli response in Gaza. I guess it’s because I haven’t really known what to say. The world is in a state of chaos unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I, like many others, am scared.
I’m scared of what I see on the news…mass shootings, gun violence, terrorism, innocents dying, politicians who worry more about the party line than the good of their country. And I’m scared of what I can’t see, too…what’s just over the horizon…the other shoe that’s going to drop at some point. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I guess I’m more of a realist.
Last night was Halloween. There’s something surreal about driving past 12-foot skeletons breathing fire when you remember the death and destruction in the Middle East…or seeing tombstones in peoples’ front yards when new graves are being dug in Lewiston, ME for the victims of another mass shooting…or watching children run and skip from one house to the next laughing and being happy-go-lucky kids and then remembering the number of innocent children in Israel and Gaza who will never run and play again because of terrorism and the response to it. The world is a scary place.
But then I remember today is All Saints Day. Today, we honor those who have passed from this life to the next. We remember these individuals because of the special place they had in our lives…the sacrifices they made, the courage they showed, the faith they shared, the love that flowed from them to us and to the world. I wonder if they were ever scared…if they watched the news and didn’t know what to say.
These saints are our example. They faced a world just as brutal as ours. They were afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. They worried about what the world was becoming. And still, they kept going. They persevered. They continued to fight the good fight…to work for love and justice and righteousness. And so should we.
It’s okay to be afraid…to be anxious and uncertain…but when we allow fear to guide us, we pull back and isolate ourselves from the world around us. And that’s not what we’re called to as followers of Jesus. Our job is to keep going…to keep proclaiming good news…to continue shining light into the dark corners of this world…to keep working for peace and justice and unity and love.
Author and theologian Frederick Buechner once wrote, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Now isn’t the time to let go of the world or pretend what’s happening doesn’t scare us. Now is the time to love more deeply and cling more closely to one another and to Christ. I still don’t really know what to say about the state of the world, but I do know that like the saints before us, our job isn’t to see the world as it is, but as it could be and then to continue the work of building the Beloved Community in this present moment.