Happy New Year, beloveds.
Many of us are saying, “good riddance!” to 2020. I watched comedian John Oliver blow up a giant 2020 sign in the season finale of his show Last Week Tonight, I scrolled past a show on Netflix called “Death To 2020,” I’ve gotten holiday cards expressing relief that 2020 is behind us. Indeed, it is good to think we could be starting anew. We have two effective COVID19 vaccines out there, and more are being developed. We may be wondering whether a different administration in the executive branch will bring different approaches to pandemic management that could mean less loss of life and more relief to individuals and communities struggling with lost livelihoods. We may feel hopeful about the possibility that COVID precautions such as wearing masks could become less politicized and more universally adopted. Or, something different – I wonder, what are you hopeful about in 2021?
For all our yearning for a fresh start, we are under no illusions that the date changing from 2020 to 2021 means we are magically delivered out from under the weight of pandemic. My three-year-old often asks me when we can get back to the “good old days” (yes, that is a direct quote), when we can go into other people’s houses. I want to be able to answer her, but of course I don’t know. When will things be normal again? Soon, I hope. But also, I have to remember that what is “normal” for me is also part of unequal and unsustainable way of structuring and powering our world. I saw a financial Times article by author Arundhati Roy back in the spring that I keep returning to, as it calls me to rethink my yearning for the “normal.” She writes:
Coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves.
Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
Our worship theme for January is imagination. All month we will consider the power of imagination to help us move through this “portal.” As people of faith, how are we called to use our imaginations to be part of building a
better world? I hope we can reflect on this question together.
Yours in faith and love,
Zoom Chats with Rev. Jolie Every Thursday at 10 AM
Drop in and say hi, connect with one another and your minister. Time permitting and as the spirit moves us, we will reflect on a prompt together.