Today, January 6, is the day that most people return to business as usual following the Christmas holidays. Kids are back in school, businesses get most of their people back from vacation and the world resumes its patterns that are so deeply ingrained.
If the world is going to change, it’s at critical junctures like these when people lament their return to the ‘rat race’ and the drone of never-ending drudgery. The pull of the status quo is strong and that is a bad thing, given how much turmoil there is in the world.
Those with a vested interested in continuing evil have the power to enforce their interests.
Those who perceive that they have no choice do their bidding, reluctantly or not.
It is at this point, as people make a ‘fresh start’ in the new year, that change is more possible. That they resolve to be better people. People who have values AND who live them. To have integrity. To have honor. To have faith. To show love, compassion and, kindness along with strength, efficiency, and competence.
Lord, I pray that you strengthen the hearts and minds of your people to resolve to break free from their ruts. To stop putting up with substandard situations. To advocate for themselves and for others whose voices are too soft to be heard by those with power. Strengthen their resolve to demand better AND TO DO better.
I am convinced that the vast majority of your people see the nonsense and evil that pervades their daily routines. They see unintentional foolishness perpetuated in the name of consistency and order and convenience. They also see the intentional, cynical mistreatment of individuals and groups, and feel powerless to stop it. "That's just the way it is."
Lord, I know they have the power to stop it because you give it to them. Let them open their eyes and see that there are other ways. Let them get support from those around them. Let them encourage one another and build each other up. Let them think of you and do your will, not theirs.
Part of our ingrained pattern is to share loving greetings around Christmas. Reaching out to say nice things, donating more to charity, easing off on the intensity a little at work, appreciating those around us, especially those who serve us every day.
The other part of the pattern, unfortunately, is how quickly we snap back to ‘reality’ and resume the ‘serious’ work that we downshifted in December.
Lord, help us to break this pattern and achieve more balance between the importance of our work and the importance of how we treat those we work with and for. Let us resolve to do better. Help us to show the love we express during the holidays throughout the year. Not just with platitudes but with actions.
I have been deeply immersed in the pattern for many years. I have had whatever resolve I had to be better in the new year evaporate or get wiped out by the imperatives of the business. I have also contributed to the problem by embracing the need to amp up the effort, intensity, and focus which usually means putting off change until a more ideal time. The pull is hard to resist.
We also tend to put aside any compassion we conjured up in December for those less fortunate. We pick back up our biases, prejudices and harsh judgments on those with whom we disagree, or whose situation we do not share or seek to understand.
Let us understand that people in need don’t want to be in need.
Homeless people don’t sleep outside out of preference. Mentally ill people don’t choose to struggle with their illness. Immigrants who come to our country in desperation with their families and all they own aren’t tourists or invaders. They just want the safety that we take for granted. An opportunity too, but safety is the real draw.
Lord, help us to have empathy and avoid the easy demonization of those who are different than us as well as anyone who needs our help.
Lord, thank you for hearing us and for caring about what we think. Thank you for the insights you share with us every day as our understanding and faith grow stronger. We love you very much.
In Jesus’ name, we pray, AMEN!