Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hard to Stay Excited?

I don't listen to or watch national news quite as much as I once did anymore. I know I should, but part of my hesitance stems from the entertainment style that broadcast news has become and part of it is the same weariness with bad news and frivolous reporting of it of which I hear many speak. That said, I do keep NPR on the car radio, so I get some idea about what's going on in the world. Yesterday afternoon on the way home I heard an interview with a young adult about his take on the ongoing financial crisis we face. He talked about his excitement during the recent presidential campaign and the hope he had for the new administration. Then he said something close to, "But it's been a while now, and it's hard to stay excited."
Whatever your attitude about the current presidential administration, by my count, it has been in place for sixty-six days. Given a day to celebrate its beginning, a few days to move in, get settled, and learn e-mail addresses and phone extensions, that's about two months. And what a two months they have been! To go from get-out-the-vote excitement to it's-hard-to-stay-excited this soon says much more to me about the culture we've made than it does about that one young adult. Instant gratification seems to be what we all want in most areas of our lives. Those of us who want to lose weight (And who doesn't?) want a pill or a meal plan that will have pounds falling off behind us as we walk across the room, which is about as much exercise as we're willing to commit to the task. Those of us who live in relationships that need attention (Again, who doesn't?) want ours to be like the ones we read about in magazines or romance novels, and we want to wake up in them tomorrow morning. Honest conversation about expectations? Acknowledgments of what we're willing to commit to make these relationships happen? The magazines and novels don't spend much time on those, so why should we? Those who want the economy fixed (You know anybody who doesn't?)want it fixed yesterday, including the restoration of our retirement funds. I'm no economist, but even I know that kind of fix is not likely. It is hard to stay excited when things don't change much. So I wonder if we might not ought to ask if excitement is all it's cracked up to be.
It is late in Lent. Those of us who have been on this journey have been at it for nearly five weeks now. We had good intentions when we started. We'd read that devotional guide every day and set aside some time to pray. Some of us took on other disciplines, denying ourselves something we thought might make us think or taking on tasks and responsibilities that might do the same. We had every good intention of making those special services at church or doing something to observe the season. Where'd we put that devotional guide? I know it's here somewhere. Don't you think that agency we meant to call probably has enough volunteers already? I guess someone would wonder where I'd been if I showed up at extra worship now? At the root of all that lies the wonder if anything we do can keep us excited about being faithful.
Somewhere along the way, we figure out that living faithfully involves a lot more ordinary days than it does exciting ones. For every sermon that makes the hair stand up on the backs of our necks, there are four for five that we don't remember. (Remember, this is the preacher talking. No need to let me know you agree!) For every time we go to the Scripture and find inspiration, there are more times that we wonder with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord, how long?"
But yet, we continue to do the things we know how to do to understand more about who God is and who God is calling us to be. We worship. We pray. We turn to the Scripture. We sing. And sometimes we might even try something new, some new form of worship, a new song, a new guide for understanding God's Word. All in the hope of finding something to stay excited about.
I'm no more sure about what will happen to us economically or politically than anyone else is. But I am sure that spiritual growth can happen, that God, who calls us into that process, is faithful, and that whatever steps I am willing to take, God will bless and use to my advantage. As weary of the Lenten imagery as we all are, the hardest words to hear and images to see lie ahead of us. But so does the joy of Easter morning. There's a day that might generate some excitement among us. Wonder how long it will last?

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