Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

In this season, let Jesus flow through us

This season teaches us that confronting our fragility makes us strong.

The Rev. Mike Denton
Conference Minister

There are some days I think we are amazingly fragile, and other days I think we’re amazingly strong. The last few years have proven both are true in different ways.

Between the pandemic, our equity reckonings, and our flirting with autocracy, the cracking of our institutions and systems is almost deafening. The curtain has been torn away, and that which was covered up by blustering, bullying and advertising campaigns is quaking.

The checks and balances of the US government—and many other governments throughout the world—are giving way to panic or grandiosity masquerading as power.

We’re becoming increasingly comfortable with othering each other in a way that may lead to war between and among us. Things are breaking and shifting and falling apart.

The Church is not immune from this, and there are some ways in which we’re part of this. There are some ways in which we are part of these crumbling systems, both complicit with them and victims of them.

We have promoted the false doctrine that to be a Christian is a position of privilege, and that the church has a responsibility to protect that privilege. We have promoted the idea that being a Christian means welcoming the

abundance of everything instead of the abundance of some things, helping rationalize unsustainable practices. We have confused the idea of having enough with having what we want.

The path of equity reckoning and the pandemic has revealed the fragility of so much we’ve built with just a few hits of a hammer. It’s not that these things created damage as much as these hammer blows revealed the weaknesses of systems previously described as indestructible. These systems are strong but not as strong and sacred as we were taught. Truly sacred things don’t break this easily.

Still, that’s only part of the story. If we were only surrounded by fragility, everything would already have broken by now. So many of our systems are fragile, but we are not.

We’re vulnerable to a lot and are discovering more about our vulnerability every day in ways that are not always comfortable, but we are not fragile. One Brene Brown quote that has always stuck with me is “We are hardwired for survival.” We truly are.

Part of what’s broken down is that many of the systems we created to be vehicles to serve and help one another became false gods we served. Anything false eventually becomes unsustainable when the facade takes more resources to preserve than the initially intended purpose.

We’re vulnerable to the appeal of these false gods who call us to serve a purpose by a means that serve them. But ultimately, a threat to the facade cannot threaten a purpose deeply rooted in love and the call to serve. In fact, the crumbling of the facade helps reveal the power of the purpose.

In that purpose, our strength lies. It’s not that our governments, financial systems and churches are dying as much as the purposes underneath them are being liberated and revealed. Some of which is crumbling will also decay, but the most important parts will survive and become the raw materials for the future we can build together.

I know this might seem like a strange Advent article, but it’s also what Advent is. Mary sang a song of the One in her womb whose life would be a hammer:

“He has shown strength with his arm; he has  scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

This is the season when we celebrate one coming into the world who would challenge his time’s religious, financial, judicial and political systems. When the hope, peace, love and joy of Advent all become unified in the birth of Jesus, then Jesus’s primary role becomes calling us to embody these values, too.

This is the season when we’re challenged to let the strength of Jesus flow through our hearts, minds, and bodies and not just be liberated but liberate others, too, even those we may consider our enemies.

This is the season we’re called to face our fragility and then come together in holy strength. This season teaches us that confronting our fragility makes us strong.


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News © Winter 2021-22


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share