Isn’t doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results the definition of insanity? It is comfortable to stick with old behaviors, but isn’t it really, a missed opportunity for growth? Is there something that you would like to change or do differently in 2022? Or is the same old, same old, good enough for you?
As children, if you were like me growing up, we imagined a world filled with the impossible and unexpected. We traveled to fairy tale places and other countries and pretended to be different people and characters. We had imaginary friends and pets. It didn’t matter what the adults around us thought. We dreamed about bigger and better lives. When did we stop?
It seems at some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating a future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic.
But some people never lose the spirit of imagination and faith to create a different future. One of those was one of my very favorite people in the world, Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. Not too long ago he died at the age of 90 in Cape Town, South Africa, where he helped bring down the system of apartheid after decades of struggle. Archbishop Tutu didn’t accept the world he lived in as final. Instead, his faith and spirited oratory empowered him to lead others to see a more just way of life. As I told many of you, the only time I was ever arrested and put in jail was when I was in Seminary, where a number of us sat in the middle of the street in front of the South African Embassy in D.C. to oppose apartheid, hence arrested for trespassing. That was in 1982-83. The archbishop was and remains one of my heroes.
In 1984 Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and when freedom triumphed over apartheid in the early 1990s, he helped the country build new relationships and reconciliation between its white and black citizens. He never allowed himself to hate his enemies. Throughout the fight for equality, Archbishop Tutu remained hopeful and once said, “Justice, goodness, love and compassion must prevail.”
A lot can be learned from this amazing man. Archbishop Tutu imagined something much better. With time, the seemingly impossible became possible. Although much work still remains to be done in South Africa and all around the world, including the United States, he never stopped thinking, believing and advocating for all people, especially the downtrodden. He leaned in and took the kind of action that many avoid and embraced discomfort so others might be comforted.
Instead of living from memory, let us together imagine and create an amazing future for not only ourselves, but also for others. Let us join the Jesus movement and ask the question for ourselves and for society, "Where does it hurt?" Like Archbishop Tutu, let us think, believe, pray, and work to become better persons; to imagine a world where justice, goodness, compassion and love prevail.
I will look forward to seeing you this Sunday, January 30th, 2022, The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany at 10:30 AM, streaming on YouTube and/or then on our website www.stjohnshopewell.org and Facebook. Blessings as always, Fr. Bill+