I have oft noticed that the lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer can be profoundly providential. It is evidence of the Lord being Anglican.
But in all seriousness, the Epistle for this past 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, Romans 12:6-16, is markedly applicable to our current situation. (And I apologize for not writing this early in the week. This has not been an easy week, and my heart has not been much into writing at times.)
Without delving much into our toxic political situation, faithful Christians need to step it up in being faithful with endurance and wisdom. And that will look different for different Christians. We need to respect that. St. Paul reminds us in Romans 12 that different Christians will live and minister in varying ways, and that is very much God’s design. I will add that different times may call for different approaches. St. Paul himself was very bold in his witness, yet there were times when he, often with the urgent help of more sensible brothers, avoided or fled bad situations. The Book of Acts tells of a basket over walls and other fun episodes.
So we need to respect and commend that a married couple with children dependent on a job at a major corporation for income may now choose to avoid political conflict and instead emphasize leading a quiet life and focus on educating and preparing the next generation as recommended in The Benedict Option. A single self-employed woman who perhaps can worry less about cancelling might want to be bolder and more public in her witness and in speaking against tyranny from both governments and corporations as may the proverbial fearless old man who doesn’t give a . . . care anymore about what others may think. And, yes, the church may need a few Bonhoeffers. We need all these, the quiet and the bold, and should support them.
I include myself in needing to do better in supporting different approaches. In the past I have dismissed The Benedict Option for reasons I will not go into here. And I do have significant disagreements with Rod Dreher. But now that I am actually reading the book I see a lot of wisdom, particularly about education, that I am taking to heart. We all would do well to think, perhaps rethink, and pray about how best to be salt and light in the darkness that seems to be descending upon us.
Now St. Paul in Romans 12 also states some things that all Christians should do such as prayer, helping out people in need with charity and hospitality – which are all the more needed during economic disruptions and cancelling – along with being “patient in tribulation.”
There are responses to avoid as well. We should “bless them which persecute” along with pursuing viable peaceful legal avenues that remain to improve governance, such as voting. (Yes, I know some have had it with voting. I may address that another day.) This precludes political violence, to say the least, which usually backfires anyway as we see in the aftermath of this past Epiphany Day.
On the other hand, neither should we further the deceptive narratives of tyrants as certain writers for Christianity Today have done. We, especially clergy and other church leaders, must exercise more discernment than that.
Perhaps I could say more about how we need to pray and support each other as we seek to make wise adjustments under the Lord’s guidance during this time. But that’s all I got for now. I’m still thinking about a lot myself. So sorry this is not all that profound. But this is probably a time for getting back to basics anyway, is it not?