Rector's Blog: Meant for These Times
My favorite Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds, includes a song where Brian Wilson opines repeatedly, “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.” It’s a reflection on feeling disconnected, misunderstood, and disillusioned. It is very pretty, and it is very melancholy. And in terms of music, I love very pretty, very melancholy songs. So, I love this song. Wilson is, of course, putting to music an often-articulated idea when faced with reality, “Maybe I wasn’t made for these times.” “I’m a generation late.” “I would’ve done much better in the (insert decade here).” Or maybe you’ve felt like you or someone you admire was born before your time.
Just not right now. Just not here. These times don’t fit. I want better times. Less interesting times. Times when I would’ve had it easier.
This is not a new feeling for us. I remember reading a Psalm once and realizing that the Psalmist was opining for the times when God’s presence was found in a pillar of smoke, a column of fire, manna from heaven, the parting of the sea, water from the rock. I was taken aback by old David, ancient King of Israel, wishing he’d been born at a different time. Then I followed his yearning back to the times he described and guess what I found? Those Israelites who were confronted by the glory of God spent a lot of time wishing they were somewhere else, wishing things were more certain for them. As they sojourned through the wilderness in God’s company, I could almost hear them sing, “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times."
But in fact, here you are. Now. In this time. In this place. And so am I.
We are living through a worldwide pandemic that will impact all our lives moving forward. None of us are being left alone by it. None of us will go unchanged. We can have this desire to wish for other times, for the idealized past or the imaginary future, but we are right here. And it occurs to me: What if you and I actually were made for these times?
For the past few Sundays, we’ve been hearing readings from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And Paul is so emphatically insistent throughout this letter that his audience, the church, us – that we are part of God’s work for salvation. We exist on purpose, and with a purpose: that purpose is to participate with God in the healing and reconciliation of the whole world. You aren’t here merely to survive. You’re also not here just to “thrive” – as if the whole purpose of your life is your own self-improvement. You and I were baptized into a life of care for one another and service to our neighbor. Paul says this loving care is how we imitate God. With Christ at our center, with love as our guide, with unity in faith and justice our goal, we grow into the realization of our purpose for being here at all.
We were made for these times; you and I. God has chosen us to love this world here and now.
As we head into the next chapter of our shared life, we will be focusing throughout this program year on the third part of our Vision Statement: Sent. In our Vision, we say we seek to be a community that is Sent into the world, rooted and grounded in love, to serve all people with humility, compassion, and faithfulness. This Sent language affirms our reason for existing in this world, for living in these times. The care for others is why we are here.
A little part of you may rebel at the idea of this. Not because it sounds bad, but because it feels like I’m handing you an assignment – giving you more work. Like I’m adding to your to-do list so you can be the right kind of person. But I’m not interested in you becoming a better person. At all. I’m interested in you knowing that you belong here and now. That your being is no accident. That your placement in this world at this time is not a matter of coincidence.
I don’t know exactly why we are living through such a time of fear, uncertainty, and upheaval. But we are. God has such incredible faith in us. In this place, God is rooting and grounding us in Love. In this time, God is sending us into the world to serve all people with humility, compassion, and faithfulness. We were meant for these times.
Tags: Rector's Blog