In the Office: Of Heck and Handbaskets

We’ve all heard it said: “The world is going to Heck in a handbasket!” (Well okay, the actual saying is slightly more colorful. But hey, I am a Baptist pastor. And who knows? Kids might be reading. So we’ll leave it at that.) And if you read the news, it’s somewhat hard to disagree. Our leaders are sharply divided, stand accused of malfeasance, and seem determined to take actions that serve the needs of special interests rather than the common good. Scientists warn of impending ecological disaster (and weather patterns are destructive enough already to make one suspect that they’re right). Nations are at war both militarily and electronically. Across the globe, countless millions suffer; and somehow we manage to ignore this reality or distract ourselves from it.

Of course, this is just the bad news…the news that gets reported. It’s also fair to say, I think, that an enormous amount of good gets done – but simply goes unnoticed. People sacrifice to serve those in need. Unsung heroes live with integrity, do good work and treat others with respect. Forgiveness happens! As do listening and understanding and love.

And perhaps even more important than these real-but-underreported signs of hope, we who trust in the God who raises the dead have even more reason not to despair. As the epistle reading from today’s Daily Office reminds us:

  • If God is for us, who can be against us?
  • He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
  • We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
  • Neither death nor life…nor anything else in call creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39 (Selected verses)

So, what does that mean for us as we seek to live faithfully in a world that seems so enamored with “heck and handbaskets”? Are we simply to shrug our shoulders and say, “It doesn’t matter; God’s got this?”

Well, no. Jesus told us to pray that God’s kingdom would come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And so, even when the odds seem overwhelming, we continue to “seek first” that kingdom, and “receive the gift” of that kingdom, and “expand the embrace” of that kingdom. And in addition, we do this kingdom work with the same spirit and by the same means as the One who rules that kingdom. Like Jesus, we live with gentleness and humility; we accept the outcast and tend the broken; we serve others in self-giving love. And perhaps most of all, we keep trusting “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So, is the world going to heck in a handbasket? I don’t think so…because I know the One whose hand is on the basket. And He assures me that Light is stronger than darkness; Love is stronger than hate; and even in the midst of death, there is the promise of Resurrection Life.

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