It’s a funny thing to work on a church staff. You see trends ebb and flow. You see people join the church. You see people dig deep into their spiritual lives. You see the transformation that comes with surrendering yourself to God.
On the other hand, you see people leave the church. You see people burn out or “give up” on God. You see the full range of human emotions.
I attended a memorial service at the church a couple weeks ago. As I sang “Amazing Grace” with those that gathered to celebrate this person’s life, I couldn’t help but think about the status of the Christian church today.
The church stands in a world of love and hatred. The church stands in a world of poverty and excess. The church stands in places of utter sorrow and in places of immense joy. Sometimes the church stands in the right place. Sometimes, it doesn’t. One only has to read history books to see the ups and downs of the church and its people.
When you read the news and the surveys today about the state of religion in America, it’s easy to see that the church as a whole is declining rapidly. Some blame it on what they see as the perceived hypocrisy of Christians. Others blame it on access to other, more exciting weekend activities. And some blame it on the rise of the “spiritual but not religious.” Many more people today just no longer believe.
In Portland, Oregon right now, the worldwide United Methodist Church is gathering to determine what the future looks like for the denomination. If you read the news about this conference, uncertainty abounds in so many ways.
Uncertainty abounds. That’s actually a good way to view our world today.
I would say that over the next year “uncertainty abounds” might be my mantra. One only has to look at the politics surrounding the current presidential elections to have an understanding of the stress and anxiety that we face as a nation.
Uncertainty is our lives on a daily basis.
Today, there are some people trying to figure out how to take care of an aging parent. Today, another family is a week late for their month’s rent. Today, a person you know may be battling depression or another troubling situation.
Uncertainty abounds. In my life and in yours. So very much of it is out of our hands. And yet, I have hope.
Despite the uncertainty that life throws our way, I am hopeful in a future of God’s kingdom. It’s not because I have a greater insight into the nature of God. It’s not because I pray harder or know the Bible better than others.
I am hopeful because of what I read in Scripture about God’s faithfulness and because of what I’ve experienced.
I am hopeful because of the life-changing work that Christians are doing around the world and in our community.
I am hopeful because despite my flaws, I am loved and forgiven.
I am hopeful because there is grace.
I am hopeful because, like Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
So, uncertainty abounds. But hope does too. And for that, my mantra will need to change. “Hope abounds” works better for me.