Word for Word 9/2/20

Rev. Kim Gates
Rev. Kim Gates

I guess “summer” is over because schools have started! But some nasty summer weather is still probably on tap for the next several weeks – heat-n-humidity plus tornado season will be with us, not to mention the threat of derechos! As if this year hasn’t held enough discomfort and disaster!

I’ve seen numerous posts on Facebook about how we’ve had enough of “2020” and wanting to fast-forward to 2021. Poor ‘”2020,” it didn’t ask for bad things to happen. And for some people it hasn’t been as bad a year as some others have been – for my family 2013 was a pretty rotten and depressing year. So our perspective as to what makes the year ‘bad’ can vary greatly as well as affect our emotional and spiritual health!

Keeping things in perspective is important. A few weeks ago in the lectionary scriptures Jesus demonstrated this in his discussion with the disciples about what defiles a person (Matt. 15:10-20). The Pharisees perceived that Jesus and his followers had committed a reprehensible crime by eating in a field with unwashed hands.

To Jesus, they simply satisfied their need for food so he taught the disciples to look at the bigger picture by explaining what really defiles a person are the bad/mean/hurtful things that come out of their mouths and actions such as murder, adultery, false witness, slander, etc. Wouldn’t you agree that committing murder was more defiling than having dirty hands?

So how should we perceive 2020? I suggest we view it as a gift from God - as we should view each year where numerous opportunities can arise to further the Kingdom. And not only every year but every day, hour, minute and even every second – all are gifts given by God for our benefit and opportunity to bring glory to GOD. Not glory to the self but the God who is the Creator of ALL things and who loves us so much that even human death cannot separate us!

If we could just get past the Me-Myself-n-I focus and look at the world more thru the eyes of God i.e. the Big Picture, I firmly believe we would still see beauty, purpose, hope, and Christ himself at work in our world TODAY and thus be able to know more joy, peace and love. But it takes a certain perspective to be able to “see” things – situations AND people – thru the eyes of someone else, let alone God. It requires a wider scope than just looking at what Me/Myself/I wants right now.

Yes, it is hard to look at the world as if looking through someone else’s eyes but if we want to truly serve God then we need work on this skill. If we’re trying to look at a more broad perspective than our immediate situation we won’t have time to dwell on all the bad things 2020 seems to have dumped on us. Instead we’ll be seeing the good things that have also happened plus be looking toward the future and the promises it holds – the greatest of which is the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom where “…Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more… (Revelation 21:4).

I’m sick-n-tired of COVID-19 but if it and its affects are all I focus on then I’m bound to get depressed and angry and more self-focused as I view how COVID is robbing me of the things I want to do. So instead I’m trying my best to look beyond the immediate – to keep things in perspective and look for what it is God would have me see. I’ve seen some pretty awesome things so far! May you be able to do the same with the rest of “2020”!

Rev. Kim Gates
Waukon St. Paul’s and Forest Mills United Methodist Churches


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