Thursday, February 5, 2009

"In a Dark Time"

Because I'm in a pulpit most Sundays, I rarely get to hear another pastor preach. Well, I heard a treat on Wednesday when I attended the chapel service at Iliff School of Theology. A local UCC pastor, Rev. Karen Kilpatrick of Arvada, gave a wonderful message called "Lincoln: Melancholy and Grace." We've been hearing a lot about Lincoln from our new president, plus it will be Lincoln's 200th birthday next week.

The line that stayed with me long after it was spoken is a quote by the poet Theodore Roethke, referring to his depression (which we know Lincoln also experienced): "In a dark time, the eye begins to see."

That's an interesting thing to consider during these dark times as a nation. People are pausing to consider what really matters. We have to make choices about how we spend our money and our time. Fewer impulse purchases, fewer miles driven, more appreciation for simple pleasures, including time for family, and the importance of community. If there is ever a time people value religious community it is during times of collective fear and doubt, as well as times of personal crisis. We don't have to look too far within our families or friends to find someone affected by job loss or fear of loss. Can we come out of this "depression" with stronger and more lasting values, both as a nation and as individuals? Can we become a less materialistic people, or is this just a passing hope? After 9/11, many thought we would be less divided as a nation and in fact, it was the opposite.

Karen wisely said, this time can be "an incubator for a surprising new grace."

What do you think?