By Father Casey
Last weekend, we gathered together the members of Parish Council for our biannual meeting. Parish Council consists of the leaders of all our ministries, and our meetings provide a time for sharing information, asking questions, and updating everyone on the life of Transfiguration. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have some amazing and dedicated leaders in our church, so even in pandemic times it’s a joy to be with them gathered together.
Before we dive into our work, we always begin by reflecting on a passage from Scripture. That’s also a pattern in our Vestry meetings, too, and something I invite all our ministries to practice. Spending as little as 15 minutes pondering a passage from the Bible orients our minds toward God and helps us remember our faith as we consider practical matters and make important decisions. It’s been my observation that leaders of the church are much more effective when we first pause to recall that we are followers of Christ.
So, in our meeting we looked at a passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (6:1-10), and we used the alternative translation known as The Message. One part near the end sparked the most energy, because we could all feel like it was a word straight from the Lord for us today.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
In our conversation, we noticed a few things that felt important. Paul isn’t saying, “Don’t be tired.” That would be ridiculous. Facing the difficulties and dilemmas of these days is exhausting. Pandemic fatigue is real, and trying to push through it, or neglect the state of our souls has the potential to do great harm to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Neither does Paul say, “Let’s not get fatigued fixing every problem.” There are plenty of problems that defy simple solutions, and when we don’t see lasting improvement in real time, it can be deeply discouraging to the point that we want to give up trying to help. Similarly, we can give up when we feel overwhelmed by our lack of clarity about what the “best” thing to do in a situation may be.
But our calling from God, as Paul reminds us, is to not allow ourselves to tire in doing good. We may not be able to solve every problem or right every wrong, we may not know the “best” thing to do in a given situation, but we mustn’t allow ourselves to stop trying to do good. Paul is warning us against the danger of letting the anxieties and disappointments of our world strangle our souls and inhibit us from practicing goodness. Which is why all these years later, this exhortation still feels so relevant. We must remain on guard against allowing the myriad situations of suffering or sadness – turmoil in Afghanistan, the continuing danger of Covid-19, devastating forest fires – to work their way into our hearts and cause us to stop trying. No matter what the circumstance, we can always be agents of goodness. “Every time we get the chance,” Paul writes, which is to say, even when it seems small and insignificant, even when it feels like a drop in the bucket, even when what we want to do is just yell and scream and cry, “let us work for the benefit of all.”
Every moment is an opportunity to practice doing good. Every person we meet is someone deserving of our efforts for their benefit. Every day is a gift from God given in hopes that we will use our lives, our words, our influence, our efforts to help it be more on earth as it is in heaven.
It’s perfectly okay to be tired, but let’s pray for the grace and strength to never be so tired we can’t do good. There’s too much cruelty and sin in the world for the disciples of Jesus to give up. Every chance we get – and what is life if not a parade of chances – let’s bring some more goodness to life.