“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”
The year 2020 has seen a variety of anniversaries, both of the significant and whimsical varieties. In history, this year has marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of World War II, the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, and the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae. It has also marked the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb, the centennial of the invention of the Band-Aid, and the 125th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays. Both the Beatles “Hey Jude” album and Monday Night Football reached their fiftieth anniversaries while the premiere of Toy Story and Forrest Gump’s Oscar win marked number twenty-five.
It occurs to me that the year 2020 will certainly be a year that is remembered in lists of anniversaries for years to come. After all, not since 1918 have we had such a global pandemic. The year 2020 will be a year that future grandkids will interview future grandparents about for school history assignments, as I interviewed my grandparents about World War II for a middle school social studies class. As in the aftermath of 9/11 or the Great Recession, we’re living through events of historic significance.
Some of you may remember Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book, titled “The Greatest Generation.” In it, Brokaw profiled Americans who came of age during the Great Depression; some of these went on to fight in World War II while others made their contributions to the war effort domestically. Brokaw’s thesis was that these women and men made extraordinary sacrifices not for fame or fortune but because it was “the right thing to do.”
I can’t help but think that we’re in a historical moment that calls us to give our best and be our best. While the 1.4 million current deaths due to COVID-19 are not nearly the 85 million deaths due to World War II, they still point us to the urgency of our historic moment and call us to rise above the divisions that are the order of our day. I especially see this historic moment as vital for us as faithful followers of and active witnesses to Jesus in our world. This Sunday, we are entering into Advent, the season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the return of Christ at his glorious second coming. My prayer for us during the Christ-focused season is to rise above these historically challenging times, joining together to wholeheartedly love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.