Where do we go from here?
17 Jan 2021
The world saw much in 2020. We are saddened by the more than two million lives lost worldwide, the continued slavery and kidnappings in Africa, violence in Latin-America, and the lockdown of many of our friends in Australia, Europe, and New-Zealand. But most of all, the world saw the bastion of world democracy, the United States of America, fall into chaos led by its president which left many in the world to wonder if democracy can survive.
The loss of our loves ones, in many cases without our being able to say goodbye; marriages falling apart and other families wrecked by the isolation of home confinement; the loss of jobs, income, and church fellowship; a world in crisis; even the elderly discarded and shortchanged through no fault of their own; while prison entrances have not slowed down.
Where do we go from here?
The ACW has suffered like many denominations around the world. Fellowship has been taken away from us, our Sunday communion where we receive the body and blood of Christ has been lost, and while we continue to hold each other in worship virtually, the physical hand of fellowship no longer exists. There are even those who have turned the wheels of fellowship to their own political cause.
Recently I was asked:
What about abortion? We stand against it but support examining and discussing this on a case-by-case basis.
What about the death penalty? We subscribe that, while we render that if you take a life you forfeit your own, but still look closely to the hand of forgiveness.
What about same sex unions? Of same sex unions, the ACW holds firmly that it is not a part of God's plan, and thus such will not enter our pulpits, but the individuals involved will never be denied God's love or communion or a door to the faith.
The answers to such complex issues cannot really come in a few short words, where political correctness is required, but the ACW stands behind the Word of God--ultimately leaving everyone to their own conscience.
And so we move into 2021. What it will bring, we do not know, but we ask, "What would Jesus do?" How would He harness us in these trying times. For this we go to the words of the blind hymn writer Fanny J. Crosby. In her work she pleads, “Jesus keep me near the cross”. We must not let the pandemic destroy us or the winding behavior of those who seek to destroy democracy send us into free fall while the world watches. We must hold on to each other through prayer and reconciliation. As the season of Lent draws near, we must find a path that leads us to the Cross, where we find that hatred goes away, that love, care, and understanding return--to keeps us close to that Cross. We must not allow politics to divide us or push families into arguments far from the harmony they once knew.
The ACW stands ready to see the unity of the fellowship of the church return, and seeks the great resource of peace. We pray to see the end of slavery and kidnapping of children in Africa, an end to violence in Latin America, and an end to distrust in the greatest democracy that we ever knew. We stand ever ready to make other men free; we do so in the spirit of love. We must be faithful to God and our faith.
Hear the words of Henry Lyte as he gives riveting hope:
“I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Remember each other in your prayers.
Hartley, Presiding Bishop ACW