PRESSING TOWARD THE GOAL ON ARBOR DAY
“I press on toward the goal of the prize of the heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)
Perhaps some in our generation will mark time by the pandemic. It is a defining event, like the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, that challenged our way of life and assumptions and forces us to look at our lives and our nation in new ways. The rift created by the pandemic calls into question our personal and national lives – our sense of security and independence, our complacency about necessary services, our forgetfulness of those who make our security and safety possible. We have come to appreciate store clerks, truck drivers, and farm workers.
Perhaps the pandemic is a call to personal and national self-examination. For letting go, jettisoning the past that no longer serves us and our nation, and embracing a new world, grounded in gratitude, generosity, unity, care, and affirmation at the personal and national level.
The pandemic reminds us of what is important and separates the wheat and the chaff in our values. The pandemic asks us to discern:
• What are our goals?
• Where are we giving our energy?
• What do we need to leave behind?
• What new goals and behaviors do we need to embody?
• What is truly important in the future?
• What kind of person, church, and nation do we want to be?
I suspect that this involves more than washing our hands, not shaking hands, safe distancing, and greater concern for food and group safety. It may involve a movement toward the world God wants us to share, a world in which we can embody God’s vision “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Today, on Arbor Day, we may not be able to plant a tree. Still, we can imagine how we might be part of greening the earth by treasuring wetlands and national parks, honoring the seas and ponds, challenging our leaders to see economics in terms of ecology, preserving the foundations of life and nurturing new life.
Don’t forget or neglect the best values of the past – the values of conservation and sacrifice for a greater good – but let them be the springboard to the future God has in mind for us and the world.
Help me, O God, to keep my eyes on the prize. Don’t me be distracted by the unimportant. Let me plant seeds of hope and beauty. Let your horizon guide my words and actions. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, author of over 50 books including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTIC’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET