Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tough Times in Europe

In Europe

While most of you who read this are fighting the snow and cold – this little ski town where I teach is facing what locals are calling the warmest winter in 300 years. There’s not even a hint of snow, and I'm sure the warmth here is a crisis similar to the cold there.

But there's a bigger crisis looming over all of this continent. Many Europeans are wrestling with the increasing economic divide between the developed and developing countries. The vast $$ distance between the two, coupled with increasing instability in many parts of the middle-east is creating an immigration crisis here that is perhaps larger and more volatile than our own. I say more volatile because most of the developing countries, wrestling with poverty and high unemployment, also have strong Islamic ties of some sort. Thus the swing to the right in Europe is seen by some as religious bigotry rather than just a matter of economics, further fueling the already tense relationships between Europeans natives and Muslim immigrants. And it's creating huge tensions, both within and among the various European countries. Union hardly seems an accurate word right now.

What kind of hopeful solution is there to immigration problems if the fundamental problems of economic inequities remain unmet? And with the divergent agendas of G8 leaders, multi-national corporations, and the often corrupt leaders of developing nations, no plan has yet been cast that will bring the needed changes to all three of these parties. And all three, like legs of a stool, need to change their vision at very fundmental levels if they’re to work together for the economic good of all.

I’ve traveled over here many times, but never has it seemed this bleak. It’s as if almost every person with whom I speak sees dark clouds of change gathering on the horizon and yet feels powerless to do anything about it. Perhaps they’re right. And though they sense they can’t stop the impending storm, they are determined to build shelters of hope, large enough for all who are looking for a different kingdom than the warring kingdoms of this world. Such is the heart of many of these Christians I meet in Europe, as summarized by an Austrian I spoke with today: “We can’t fix this large problems. Perhaps nobody can. But we can love our neighbors. We can practice hospitality. We can live generously. We can pray. We can help small economic development projects. Rather than despairing, we’ll do what we can in Jesus name.”

These are good words and vital for each of us. Find a calling – step into it. Find a need – meet it. Someone once said that all that is needed for evil to reign is for good men to do nothing. If we close our eyes to the evils around us, and withdraw into our small worlds of self-interest and consumption, we become, by our passivity, part of the problem. Though I’m discouraged by the news on the European front, I’m heartened by the faithful who are seeking to embody hope in the midst of dark days. O Come – Emmanuel.

2 Comments:

At 29/11/06 09:56, Anonymous Gerfried said...

We can’t fix this large problems. Perhaps nobody can. But we can love our neighbors. We can practice hospitality. We can live generously. We can pray. We can help small economic development projects. Rather than despairing, we’ll do what we can in Jesus name.”

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can't be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

I am an Austrian and i am confronted with these issues but i think at these point that there is such a need for Christ and therefore we as believers have the responsibility to be a light into the World.

 
At 29/11/06 19:23, Blogger Nova said...

things on the u.s. front have been promising... as an social and political activist in seattle, i've been feeling very hopeful for the future. a change in leadership; a growing re-commitment to human needs; a critical look at our foreign policy...

this blog post is a helpful reminder to me that the rest of the world is still experiencing great hopelessness. i was surprised to read of the sense of bleakness in Europe - a healthy and needed jolt to my limited point-of-view.

hope your stay in Europe is filled with blessing, Richard.

- suj'n

 

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