No doubt you have heard the phrase, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It comes from the British during World War II. The Ministry of Information wanted to help boost the morale of the British people during a very difficult era. The phrase has caught on in all kinds of ways right now. You see it on greeting cards, on wall plaques, on pillows, clothing, etc. I wonder if it’s popularity rises out of a sense of uncalm right now. Tensions, stress, turmoil lurks around many corners. At least that is what it feels like.
. . . . . .
In the good old days, people went to Church to get out of the fray and find a peaceful place to avoid the turmoil. Nowadays the Church is a place that is shifting and wrestling and feeling its way through new territory as well. I have often characterized myself as a person who is not calm. At all. Not. However, that has been changing for me over the past year of growth and transformation I have experienced. In the midst of this time in my own life, I have been assured of God’s Emmanuel presence more than ever. In other words, God with us (Emmanuel). I’m not perfect at it, but my practice of presence and calm in the middle of stress is improving. Alot.
Something that is really difficult for me is to not know everything. I like to know stuff. I want to know what to expect, but it isn’t always possible. Sometimes life ends up being on a “need-to-know” basis. I read recently, “Parents, for example, do not tell their children everything. They don’t want their children to be burdened or to worry about things children should not worry about.” Still would drive me crazy, even as a child!
And God, likewise, does not tell us everything, perhaps for similar reasons.
We’re on a need-to-know basis.
In Acts 1:7, Jesus tells his disciples that there are some things they do not need to know. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” In Mark 13:1-8, Jesus tells his disciples that the Temple will be torn down and not one stone left standing. They ask him, “Tell us when will these things happen?”
Jesus says, “I don’t know. Only God the Father knows.”
We need to know that there is no cause for alarm. Sometimes when everything is falling apart, coming down, things are really, for the first time, coming together.
Father Michael K. Marsh writes, “I remember the morning of my divorce. I remember the afternoon my younger son called and said, ‘Dad, I just joined the Marines!’ I remember the night my older son died. With each of those events one of the great buildings of my life was thrown down. Stones that I had so carefully placed and upon which I had built my life no longer stood one upon another. Temples of my world had fallen. My world had changed and my life would be different.”
He goes on to write that we all build temples, and many of them come crashing down. Jesus reminds us that in the midst of the rubble, God is standing there and prepared to help us rebuild.
So, I share this advice from several folks who encouraged me: We don’t need to know what is going to happen tomorrow. If we did, we’d have been told. See Matthew 6:34. (look it up. Go ahead. I’ll wait…..) We’re on a need-to-know basis. So, what do we do? How do we respond? Keep calm and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t forget cranberry sauce. Second, be alert and watchful. Jesus, too, tells us to “keep awake.”
The first Sunday of December we will celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. As we approach a new year in the church liturgical calendar, and as we enter the Advent season preparing for the celebration of the birth of the Christ child, we are reminded to “keep awake.”
Let’s watch the way we live. Let’s prepare our hearts for the day-to-day demands of living. Let’s be in a state of readiness. Keep calm and God will enable us to carry on with every day matters that are opportunities just waiting for the transformation of God’s Spirit.