A weekly Rector’s Notes Article, December 16, 2019
Are we supposed to like the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or not?
I write that first line somewhat tongue in cheek, but I think it points to something that we do struggle with, particularly in this season of Christmas: life, especially life in 2019 heading full-speed into 2020, is complicated.
The debates over a song originally written in 1944, and hotly debated since the mid-2000s point to a larger reality of the life that we live in now: the world has changed, mostly for the better but also with a lot of complicating realities that make it hard to know sometimes where one is supposed to fall on a given issue, how one is supposed to make an informed “correct decision/opinion.”
This is largely the impetus for the recent seasons of one of my favorite TV shows, The Good Place. Without spoiling too much of the show so that you can binge on hulu or netflix to get caught up, The Good Place posits this question: is it possible to be a good person (a designation based on points earned or subtracted based on our recorded actions) in 2019 given the cascading effects and implications of every action we take in this world? And further, is it possible to be a better person, if given the chance?
While that show, often in a hilarious but heart-felt manner, has been attempting to answer those questions, I’ve been struck by this sense that life, and in particular all of the problems that we see and face, is complicated at best to navigate. Here in our community we face questions about the homeless, about generational poverty, about addiction, about balancing the needs for employment with the potential environmental impact of different industries, to name some of our more complicated issues. It is easy to say there is one acceptable answer to each of these problems, but the reality is, there is not one easy answer to address every unique aspect of each of these. Each of these issues, and many more in our community, are complicated, have layers, have valid approaches from a number of different angles.
The reality of our complicated lives then hangs over us. And, this is why Advent is so important.
Advent prepares us for something that is very much NOT complicated.
Jesus Christ is to be born. God is to be made manifest. The Word will be Incarnate.
We are tasked with making straight the paths, with preparing the world for the arrival of Christ. Our blueprint for accomplishing this is in the very teachings of Christ, it is found in our tradition and exercising of faith for centuries.
Christ, our faith and belief in Christ, in God, is NOT complicated. It might be hard, it might challenge and push us, but it is not complicated. This reality of our faith must stay with us and inspire us as we head into this coming season of Christmas. This reality of our faith must stay with us and inspire us as we engage in this complicated life that we experience each day.
It is only with Christ and through Christ and in Christ that we can find our strength and resolve to tackle this complicated world, because Christ is very much not complicated, and in him we find our courage, our knowledge that we are trying so very hard to be a “good” person.