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July, August, September 2002
Salvation by the SeasideThe following is a homily delivered by Ms. Logan Sachon, age 18, at the Easter Vigil at Christ and Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, Norfolk, Virginia on March 30, 2002. Ms. Sachon will enter The University of Virginia this Fall.
The more I learn about the world and its workings, the more I want to turn back time, to live with my eyes open only to beauty and kindness. Never have I agreed more with the adage "ignorance is bliss" than in the past year. Over the past twelve months, I have learned the meaning of injustice, found that there is no such thing as "fair," and have only begun to know the real meaning of fear.
This year I decided to take a course about environmental science. For some reason, when registering for it, I had pictured tree-hugging hippies and lush, green national parks, flowing rivers, and recycling projects. Instead, I was met with pollution mortality statistics and charts outlining "the top ten things in your house that are silently killing you."
In a normal year, this new wealth of information about environmental hazards and human stupidity would be disturbing. This year, however, it is something of a last straw. I try to be logical. But at the end of a normal day, this is what I know: The rainforests are dying. We are running out of fossil fuels. We are running out of drinking water. Half of Africa has AIDS. People are killing each other in the Middle East. People are killing each other in Africa. Almost everything is giving me cancer. There are people in this world that would crash planes into buildings and send diseases through the mail.
And all this BEFORE the parade of violence on the eleven o'clock news.
They say knowledge is power, but from this knowledge, I feel nothing but weakness. I long to go back to a time when the scariest thing in the world was getting separated from mom in a department store, with the ghouls under the bed as a close second. I feel, as I am sure we all feel to some degree, like I am caught in a state where nothing makes sense and nothing is familiar.
Our situation today is not so unlike that of the Israelites in their flight from Egypt. They too, were traveling from a place of familiarity, and they too were scared. They had a life in Egypt. Perhaps not their ideal life, perhaps not the life they visited in their dreams, but they had a secure life nonetheless. And then suddenly, it was gone. They were in the wilderness, with the Egyptians behind and their glimmer of hope for the Promised Land all but hidden by the uncertainty and fear brought on by the wilderness.
Bitterness overcame them as they asked Moses if he brought them out of Egypt only because there were not graves enough for them in they city. They expected to die in the wilderness. But Moses would not accept their forfeit. He beckoned them, "Do not be afraid." He promised that God would take care of them and fight for them. And then he led them to the Promised Land through parted seas.
Our situation is not so unlike that of the Israelites in the wilderness. They were bitter and Moses promised God would take care of them. But what of us? We have no Moses to tell us everything will be alright. But we do have faith, faith that tells us everything is going to be alright, faith that ensures that God will take care of us and fight for us as he fought for the Israelites so long ago. Today that faith which promises that God will keep us safe may not be as strong as when we had no reason to believe we would not be safe. I know my own has struggled this year, struggled with this new knowledge, struggled with this new fear.
But my faith is strengthened by the fact that people are still good, that the world, all in all, is still beautiful. There are groups fighting to save the rainforests, to clean the rivers, and to purify the air. There are companies who distribute free drugs to help the AIDS victims in Africa. There are strangers who still smile on the street. There are people willing to do anything to ensure the safety of others. Scientists are making great strides toward a cure for cancer and other diseases. People are returning to the church and to their faith. The whole world is praying for peace.
Even as we cope with apprehension now, I know that, on an unassuming day in the not so distant future, God will answer those prayers, our fear will part, and we will be in the Promised Land that is this life at its best.
A Prayer for Young Persons (BCP p. 829)God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
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