The passing of icons makes me feel old
I am now officially old. I turned 55 last week. But that's not what makes me feel old. It's the fact that all of the icons and mentors of my life are dying off. Andy Griffith, Andy Williams, Davy Jones, Mike Wallace, Dick Clark, "Stormin'" Norman Schwartzkopf, George McGovern, Phyllis Diller, Sally Ride, Earl Scruggs, and Ray Bradbury are just a few of the influential people who've passed away in 2012. They all left their footprints on my soul.
Even more sad for me personally was Bishop Leontine "Teenie" Kelly, the first African American woman elected bishop in the United Methodist Church in the US. She wasn't just a pioneer, she was someone who inspired clergywomen everywhere with her no-nonsense approach. She once told a story about going out to one of her churches that was "being contrary." She kept sending them good ministers, and they would mistreat them so much they moved within a year. The latest clergy appointed to them was a woman. So they insisted on seeing the Bishop. After listening to all their excuses, reasons, and ramblings about why they couldn't accept a woman pastor, she gathered all of her 5' frame, rose from her seat and replied to them in a very stern voice, "You're talking to the wrong bishop," she said. She refused to let them manipulate their way out of a female pastorate. They tried again to make her listen. Her reply was similar, "Her race, sexuality, or culture are none of my concern." She turned to the woman and said, "Did God call you to this ministry? She replied in the affirmative. "Then, go forth in God's blessings sister! You have some pharisees to take care of!" And that was that.
As a nation, we took a great step backwards in 2012. The disparity between the haves and have-nots is ever widening. The economic recovery is agonizingly slow. Our elected officials appear to be behaving like children in a sandbox fighting over the shovel. We are STILL involved in the longest war in US history. Meanwhile, whereas in the not-too-distant past, people would turn to their faith for support in these turbulent times, that is NOT the case in 2012. More and more people reject the church, or simply ignore it.
The churches in America must be held accountable for the current spiritual malaise in our culture. We must change. We must go in a new direction. We are responsible for the souls of the world and we are asleep at the job.
When the Wise Men came to see the baby Jesus, an angel told them to go home "by a different road." Their encounter with Christ - even as a baby! -changed them. They couldn't go on the way they came; Herod would be watching for them. They had to do something different. The new route might not be as safe, as clear, as familiar, but they were willing to go wherever God directed them. Are we willing to go wherever God directs us? Are we willing to leave our footprints on the people whose lives we touch each day? What will be said of us in 2014? Did we go by a different road? Or did we do the same old things expecting different results?
I'm not wishing you a happy New Year. I wish you God's blessings for an exciting, dangerous, strange and NEW New Year! I wish you a year full of new and different things. Most of all I wish you a new and revitalized life of faith in Christ that calls you to His service each and every day for the rest of your life!
• Reach the Rev. Caren Bigelow Morgan, pastor of Waxhaw United Methodist Church, at (704) 843-3931 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org