Senior Minister’s Message
Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea
Later this month, the President will offer the annual “State of the Union” address to the nation. The “State of the Union” is meant to be both a review of where we are as a country at the end of the previous year, as well as a preview of where we need to go and how we will get there during the current year.
In November, however, the acclaimed writer Annie Proulx offered what has been labeled a “State of the World” address on the occasion of her receiving the National Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Proulx began by lamenting current conditions: “despicable political figures and sexual harassment reports”; “repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage”; “flickering threats of nuclear war”; “a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures”; “the accelerating destruction of the natural world”.
But then Proulx’s address took a critical turn.
“Yet somehow”, she continued, “old values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such notions as truth, respect for others, honor, justice, and sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. The happy ending still beckons, and it is in hope of grasping it that we go on.”
We won’t find it anywhere in the Bible - and I would never remotely imply that a writer of Proulx’s rare abilities plagiarized them - but in my mind, heart, and imagination I have heard this “State of the World” address before - from God. We don’t have those exact words from God, but what Proulx expresses is the exact message of Christmas. At Christmas, God, while lamenting the state of the world at that time, still had tender feelings for notions like truth, honor, justice and sharing. God still held hope for a happy ending. So God sent Jesus into that world as both the embodiment of those notions, and inspiration for humanity to believe in and grasp for that happy ending.
For those of us in the Christian spiritual tradition, it is fitting then that the beginning of each new year so closely follows Christmas. The start of each new year is our opportunity to recommit to the happy ending that God’s “State of the World” message at Christmas reminds us is possible through the example and inspiration of Jesus.
New Year Blessings, Mark