A Word from Canon Leighton in the December 31, 2017 Adventurer
As my husband and I walked out of our voting site a couple of weeks ago, we marveled at the opportunity to exercise our right to vote in what felt like two historic elections in little more than a year. As he is prone to do, he erupted in a retooled version of a song we both know well. In this case, it was Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” with his own new verse that brilliantly summed up the last year of American life.
December always brings reflection on the year past with hopes for the year to come. 2017 feels particularly momentous – yes, for political reasons, but also because of a bumper crop of natural disasters and the scandals of abuse perpetuated by high profile figures in the arts and entertainment industries.
It is so easy for us to blame others for the fallen and broken world around us. In his song’s refrain, Billy Joel sounds defensive: “We didn’t start the fire; no, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.” We could blame any number of individuals or institutions for the state of the world today, but honestly, there is no perfect world, no golden era, to which we could return.
If we are unhappy with the state of the world, we must remember two things: first, that we are complicit in the sin that brings about its brokenness. Everything in this world was tainted by sin and suffering and death from the moment that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The fire “was always burning since the world’s been turning.” We might not have started it, but because we each sin, we have certainly kept it burning.
Second, there is no quick fix on this side of heaven. No change in culture or laws or politics can bring about the true change that the world actually needs. When Jesus returns, God will create “new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered” (Isaiah 65:17).
Our call, then, as a part of that new creation is to engage as salt and light with the old creation to point both to God’s holiness and to his merciful love in Jesus Christ.