God, are you paying attention?
Is God paying attention? Does God see the challenges of this season--wildfires, smog, disease, injustice, fear, threat of poverty, and now earthquake and the death of an inimitable national leader for the equality for women and minorities? Our hearts cry out: God, ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?
This Sunday our scriptures reassure us: yes, absolutely. God not only pays attention but cares deeply about the wellbeing of creation and human beings. In fact, God offers us grace and restoration far beyond anything that we could possibly earn or deserve. God just graces and restores. Because that is how God is. And what we see in our readings is that when God's grace is delayed, it is usually human action and human attitudes that are to blame. Our jealousies, our hatreds, our sins are what so often stand in the way of God's grace reaching God's intended target: all creation, all people.
I have been asking myself this week: how am I a stumbling block to God's gracious concern for other people? It's an uncomfortable question. Because it makes me be honest about my weaknesses or even just personality traits that get in the way of my being a conduit and amplifier of God's grace. For example, despite what most people think, I am actually more of an introvert. I personally thrive when I can withdraw from time to time and limit my interactions with others. But that inclination to withdraw stands in direct opposition to one of our most central callings as Christians: to show concern, to show God's love for others. To engage and be God's presence where there is suffering or heartbreak, sin or injustice.
I know we are longing to commit bold acts of justice. And we should. But I also truly believe that one of the simplest ways that we can be conduits for God's grace is to go up to another person and from 6ft away or over the phone ask: how are you? And mean it. Of course, when you ask, you are inviting the other person's life and well-being into your life and your well-being. When you ask "how are you?" you have opened a chink in the wall of atomized living that we have been cultivating as a society long before the pandemic hit. The simple act of asking "how are you?" opens our hearts, extends and amplifies grace, and builds beloved community from the ground up.
Indeed, when we ask another person "how are you?"--a neighbor, a friend, an enemy--we are in fact "being Jesus" in this season of challenge. And we suddenly realize that God is paying attention, through us.
Beloved people of God: How are you? Please know that simple question is God's care, curiosity and love. And if you have a moment to answer, please email back firstname.lastname@example.org or cell/text: 310-968-7038.