Remember First, Hope Second
“Required: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
Television writer and producer Norman Lear, who is about to turn 93, was asked how he made it so long and so well. He responded, “By knowing the difference between what is over and what is next.” Is the season of our discontent over? Can we go to church Bible study or school or a nightclub or a parade safely? What great new surprise will gun down Latino queers or black men, perpetually targeted, or children whose lunchboxes remain uneaten?
What’s next is probably more of the same. We are at the beginning of something, not the end. Apologies to Loretta Lynch, who implores us not to let gun violence become the new normal. Public violence is the new normal. As beginners here, as people in need of spiritual remediation, we need to remember first and then hope secondly. We are like college freshman who took all the wrong courses in the first year, only to discover that for our major we need lots of other required ones. Like doing justice, while loving mercy, and being humble about both. Like not putting down the people who are so mentally ill that they kill others or say overt and covert racist things. Mercy for murderers? Active and passive ones? Yes. Without pride about being so good. Getting close to our antagonists, close enough to say we are going to do something different. Yup.
I was preaching about the new normal and how we are beginners. I got to my main point: life is going to be a lot about INTERRUPTION for a while to come. That’s when someone’s cell phone went off, unprogrammed. It gave us the good laugh we needed.
Magnetize us O God to our required course. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her book: Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.