By Norman Franklin

We had some good days in 2021, and more than a few bad days; a lot of negative energy. We pause in this final week of the year and give thanks to God, He brought us through it all.

We began the year with a lot of negative energy. It erupted on January 6 with an assault on our capital. Americans died. That energy has held sway over the nation since that infamous day; there’s been a lot of push and pull between opposing ideologies in politics and religion. We are divided but still the greatest experiment of democracy this world has ever known.

COVID mutated. The Delta virus and the Omicron are more contagious than #19.  But the One who is able has been with us despite our arrogance, our mistrust, our misrepresentation of facts. The vaccines developed have been effective in slowing down the spread. Our hearts hold warm memories of those who succumbed to this international scourge. Millions died worldwide.

The COVID lockdowns revealed stress fractures throughout our infrastructures. The health care system was stretched like a taut rubber band about to snap. Hospitals were overwhelmed: ICU beds were at capacity, doctors, nurses, support personnel all sacrificially held the frontline; nursing homes were ravaged by this scourge of death. We found the way to face tomorrow with hope.

Catastrophic storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical depressions and earthquakes showed that we have the right stuff in us. We set aside our differences and became communities of neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers, people coming to the aid of those whose lives were upended. Through the storms, floods and devastation of hurricanes and tornadoes, God showed us who we are capable of being. God reigns in all situations and circumstances. According to Ephesians 1:11, He uses all things according to the purpose of His will.

Politics as usual. Finger pointing, misrepresentation of facts, chest thumping amid a crumbling infrastructure, our way is the better way; the nation continues its divisive drift. Vaccinations, face masks, sheltering in place all became political fodder, a matter of personal liberty; we prayed for wisdom.

Social injustice – we thought we had subdued this ugly ideology late in the twentieth century – dominates the social theater. The backward ideologies of supremacy and privilege inherent in melanin or lack thereof, once resigned to dinner table conversations, germinated, mushroomed and now flavors all social and political discourse.  Injustice in the voting process, injustice in the criminal justice system, economic disparities, access to adequate health care in minority communities, economic disparities, racial injustice are normal to the tapestry of our culture. A sobering reality.

Restrictive measures to the voting processes are sold to us in polished commentaries of integrity, honesty and fairness of our elections. Indoctrination of the rightness of superiority is couched in restricting of history curriculum in our schools. Suppress the ugly, the negative, the oppression; we don’t want our children to be made to feel uncomfortable when the raw truth is taught. Present American history in all its white glory.

Just a few things to consider as we look over our shoulders at 2021. One thing is certain, a change is needed, and the eye of God is on us.

If we were to be honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that fear is at the root of our discord. Fear of losing control, fear of change, fear pandered by those who would benefit from our divisive discourses, divide and conquer.  We are comfortable with oppression, as long we are not the oppressed. We must find the courage to embrace the changes necessary to bring us to the ‘one nation under God.’

Courage is acting despite our fears. The question is do we have the courage to change.

In church services throughout our nation on Christmas Eve, we celebrated the birth of our Savior, the Prince of Peace, the Liberator of the oppressed. We worship Jesus, the Christ. We sing of the holy night when Christ was born. A line in the lyrics of the song ‘ O Holy Night’ is “Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

It is our tradition to make resolutions, to set goals for the New Year. Let us collectively, as a nation of Christians, make this New Year’s resolution, ‘that the change needed to bring us to becoming ‘one nation under God’ begins with me.

Be blessed! May you have a Happy New Year.

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