"It doesn't take much effort to see that if there's a thing that defines this time right now, it seems to be anger," says Bishop Hughes. "Who are we to be in the midst of that? How are we to be God's emissaries? How are we to be the witnesses of God's love in this time that we're in?" (Time: 4:48.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark, and 2022 has arrived. I imagine there's any number of us that had some secret and silent hope that when the clock struck 12:01 and the end of the last year stopped and the beginning of the new year began, that we would be in a completely different circumstance. That all that has worried us, all that has been complicated for us, and most especially Covid, would be behind us. So the great surprise of 2022 is not a surprise at all: we were in a surge as we came out of Thanksgiving, it only gained strength going into Christmas, it is much stronger now than it was before the holidays, and certainly the added challenge of a new variant has made it even worse. So here we are, no surprise at all.
The good news though, the important thing for us to remember is, it's not a surprise at all, but also, we know how to do this. We were in the same situation this time last year – we know how to navigate. We know how to figure out how what we need to change in order to work, in order to worship, in order to be around each other. We know how to take care of ourselves and our families and our friends and our neighbors. So, while this goes on around us, we make all of those adjustments that we need to make.
My question for us in 2022 has a whole lot less to do with Covid and much more to do with who we are called to be at this time. It doesn't take much effort to see that if there's a thing that defines this time right now, it seems to be anger. That people are on a very short lead, they move from zero to 60 in terms of their anger – half the time they can't even express what they're fully angry about, they just are rawly and massively angry.
It is disturbing and frightening to be around, and I’m convinced that on some level underneath that anger is something that frightens people. That it is fear and worry and anxiety that fuels all that anger. Who are we to be in the midst of that? How are we to be God's emissaries? How are we to be the witnesses of God's love in this time that we're in. Clearly there's a need for that. Clearly people need to know that they are heard, that they are loved, that God knows exactly where they are and exactly what they need.
And I think we have a part to play in that. I’ve talked with you before about a boldness of love and faith and action, and that that is where we want to be in our diocese. That it really does take bold love to let people know that not only that you care for them but that God cares for them. To actually use those words. God knows exactly who you are, God knows exactly what you need, and God loves you.
It's a bold thing to say those words to another person and I want to encourage you to practice saying them with a friend, so that when you have the opportunity you can say them to someone else whose heart is broken, or who is so full of hurt or so full of anger or so full of fear that they are convinced the whole world is against them. I think when you're at that point where your back is up against the wall and all you can do is lash out, probably the most helpful thing that any of us needs when we're in that situation is to know that somebody cares.
It takes bold love to care. It takes bold love to say the words: to let somebody know that God knows where they are, God knows what they need, and God loves them. I wonder how many times we could possibly share that with another person in 2022. I want to encourage you to do so. I invite you to do so. And when you do, please do let me know about it! I want to know how it goes.
This is our year. This is our time. God is calling us to be bold lovers of God and God's people.