On January 6, the day that celebrates Epiphany, I had a lovely Zoom meeting with a group of artists across the country. I’d just gotten off the call, intending to start a new blog post when my husband called my attention to the news that was unfolding. We watched live coverage of rioters breaking windows and assaulting some of the capital police officers while searching for lawmakers to harm.
Epiphany means revelation, and a lot was revealed about the state of our nation that day. The idea of keeping up on blog posts suddenly seemed absurd to me as my social media was filled with posts of people attempting to rebrand the rioters as ‘patriots’ and the rewrite the narrative of that day. But although I live in the midwest, I know people who live in D.C. and I’ve heard some of their experiences of that day. This was lawlessness, pure and simple.
For weeks I despaired of the state of our country and of the Church - since many who claim to be followers of Christ were advocating violence to create a government in their own image. Social media became toxic for me so I took a couple of months off Facebook and used that time for prayer and reflection. Jesus built the Church on a firm foundation. Through the centuries there have been many efforts to corrupt the message, to gain power, and to further personal agendas. But there has always remained a remnant of believers who kept their eyes on Christ and persevered. The true Church - those who submit their lives to the example and teachings of Christ - will prevail.
And remembering that, I turn once again to what my role is in the Kingdom of God. My call is to be a creator, a maker, an artist. I’m called to reflect God’s beauty and character by the works of my hands. Not painting sermons, but reflecting His mystery and glory in all I say, write, paint, and do.
With that in mind, I’ll be re-working this website.
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. - Thomas a Kempis
Someone posted an idea on Facebook last week that I thought was something worth pondering, so I shared it on my feed. Basically, the writer wondered why the Church in general was not leading the charge to protect the vulnerable and postulated that a it was due to political expediency. I didn’t comment on it, just thought it was something worth mulling over.
Perhaps it was this quote, or perhaps it was already raging on but it seemed like suddenly the subject of masks was a hill people were willing to die on. Pro or con - the debate raged (and continues to rage) on social media.
It’s become so toxic that I’ve stepped away from that platform to ponder and to pray. What on earth is going on? I prayed for God to explain things to me, and I believe that no matter which position a person lands on, the intense reactions are based on fear. From fear of a virus that can kill or disable to fear of the government overstepping its role to take away civil liberties. One person I know has a very limited oxygen intake and fears wearing a mask would kill her. It’s not as far fetched as some have expressed since even without a mask she has passed out due to lack of oxygen. Everyone has a reason for their response. You may not agree with it, but as the Kempis quote points out, you cannot change people - we can barely change ourselves.
In the atmosphere of general panic, I want to take a step back and reorient myself. How, in this overwrought atmosphere, do I live a life of faith? How do I reach out to others to still their fears? How should I live my life to demonstrate God’s love and mercy in these dark times?
I turn to scripture and find that Jesus said “Fear not” or “Don’t be afraid” a lot of times. A lot. Someone did a devotional that claims there’s 365 verses about not being afraid, but I haven’t come up with that number. However, the version of scriptures that I prefer (New American Revised Standard) comes up with 4 – fear not; 57 – do not fear; and 46 – do not be afraid. Enough to know that God is making a point. A point I need to pay attention to.
I can’t make everyone chill out. There are times I can barely do that for myself. But as a believer in Christ, I can remember that He is where my most important freedoms are and I can set my heart and mind on Him as I try to put into practice the verse in Micah. Do justly, be kind, walk humbly.
And a note to myself - stop posting things on Facebook. It’s better to sit down in conversation to find out why people feel the things they do. To anyone I’ve hurt with my posts, I do most humbly apologize.
And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8 NASB
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.