A World in Turmoil

Painted by Sara, 10, Zehra, 12, and Ayla, 11, students at Funkor Childart Centre for disadvantaged students in Islamabad, Pakistan. The children there are like a beacon in a troubled word, with their desire for friendship and goodwill among the world’s races and religions.
Painted by Sara, 10, Zehra, 12, and Ayla, 11, students at Funkor Childart Centre for disadvantaged students in Islamabad, Pakistan. The children there are a beacon of light in a troubled world, with their desire for friendship and goodwill among the world’s races and religions.

At the first Sunday service of 2016, senior minister Dave Bell encouraged us all to see the turmoil in the world in a hopeful light. Rather than getting stuck in grief over expressions of violence and hatred — from the Paris shootings to widespread U.S. rejection of Syrian refugees — we can see these events as catalysts that are dissolving unsustainable ways of living on planet Earth.

Fear-based ways of relating to the world must pass away for humanity to make a leap into higher consciousness. The actions of terrorists, or the words of politicians who demonize those who seem “different,” provide fuel that can catapult humanity into embracing a higher path. In our outrage, we can be moved into action and make the world a better place.

As an example, Dave shared his experience at an Open House and Prayer Service two weeks ago at the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor. There, hundreds of people gathered to show support for our local Muslim community. To Dave’s amazement, when addressing the group, one of the imams there actually thanked Donald Trump for suggesting that U.S. mosques be closed. Why would he express gratitude for such a hostile expression of intolerance? Because those very remarks have galvanized so many members from Christian and other faith communities to stand up for their Muslim brothers and sisters. It is providing opportunities for people everywhere to move into a deeper expression of oneness.

In addition to seeing distressing global events as catalysts for birthing a more compassionate world, we can respond to the appearance of disaster in our own lives by looking for opportunities to let apparent “darkness” propel us into an increased awareness of ourselves as light. Perhaps this means transcending a grievance by seeing the conflict as an opportunity to explore and finally embody forgiveness. Or we can make the true leap into knowing that an appearance of lack is actually Spirit’s way of redirecting us toward an even greater good.

These may sound like platitudes. But when the concept of knowing our Divine nature becomes an actual felt experience, everything changes. We can invite this possibility by acting “as if.” This means invoking gratitude for the difficulties before us, knowing that they bear hidden gifts.

Many of us are inspired to respond to recent world events by conciously connecting with people of different faiths.  Faces of Faith on Sunday, January 17, from 4-6 pm, is yet another opportunity to do so. Hosted by the Zion Lutheran Church at 1501 W. Liberty and sponsored by the Interfaith Roundtable of Washtenaw County, this event invites guests to “read” a variety of “human books.”

The books, in this case, are clergy from various faith traditions, telling their personal stories to the “readers.” Our own Dave Bell will be sharing how he was transformed from a card-carrying atheist to a person of faith in the blink of an eye.

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