World renowned American theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku once remarked that all people are born as geniuses. To watch a child at play in the woods or with some blocks or a dollhouse is to watch brilliance at work. Their creative nature is limitless, the world is their playground. No one has told them what they are doing is wrong, silly, or a waste of time.
Kaku goes on to lament that somewhere along the age of 4 children begin to change – they enter new areas, new atmospheres, they begin hearing things and being nurtured in a way they were not nurtured before. The story they are allowed to live in changes, their narrative changes.
Narratives, the stories we believe, form us in ways that impact us for decades, if not our entire lives. The narrative of 2020 is at stake. Currently the narrative of 2020 would read something like this…
“The year that shall not be named”
“Pandemic. Protests. Politics”
On New Year’s Eve we had our Watch Night Service at Nashville UMC. It’s titled this because we want to be obedient to our Lord’s command to “watch and pray” (Mk 14:38). Now, there has undoubtedly been plenty of watching this year. Some folks watched so much TV they “finished Netflix” and some folks have been watching numbers, whether for an election, virus cases, or bank account.
We’ve watched much this year. But on this night, we are watching for the Lord, knowing that the words are true, for he is coming back; therefore, we are always making ourselves ready.
But we are also watching for how God has moved in the year 2020.
Dear sister or brother, never believe the narrative that because circumstances are bleak and the forecast is dire that God is not moving. The Cross and the empty tomb seal the truth that circumstances and forecasts are not the final say in a situation.
The prince of the world, satan, who is the deceiver with designs to destroy, often deceives through controlling the narrative of what God has done, is doing, or can do. When we, those in Christ, who have authority over satan, boldly proclaim and testify to what God is doing – our neighbors notice, then our community takes note, our town begins to wake up. Hope starts spreading, becoming more contagious than COVID-19, as entire regions are changed because the church is opening her mouth, not about the awfulness of the world, but about the great love God has for the world.
Saints, we have a story to tell, it’s the story of Jesus. This story did not end at his crucifixion nor did it end when he ascended into heaven. The story continues and we are the Spirit-filled folks who adamantly, and stubbornly, bear witness to what God is doing in the world.
So where do we go from here? Write out what God has done, pray over it, deal with it, then live your life, relentlessly testifying to the goodness of God in the year 2020 and beyond. Let’s offer the world what the world truly needs – the story, the narrative of God’s great love for the world.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.