We did finally talk some about Daniel 9, but mostly our class turned into an occasion for people to confess some of the stresses and concerns of the immediate political season. “We are at an anniversary, you all.” “I wonder whether things have changed so that they can’t go back …” “I don’t know what to say.” “I hardly have anyone I can talk to …” Our little classroom is no microcosm, but everyone has a story, and a strategy for trying to deal with the times – the trying times – we find ourselves in, and we question whether we are living in them faithfully, what that requires of us. There was a lot of interest in the lecture by Jonathan Haidt (“The Age of Outrage: What the Current Political Climate is Doing to Our Country and Our Universities”) that I found out about from Views from the Edge, and I said I would send the link around. If it’s true that people never think of themselves as “bad people” – which we mostly seemed to agree with – it means that the things that history deems bad, wicked, even evil, were done by people who thought of themselves as good people, righteous people even. The state of things before WWII, the state of things before the Civil War, the state of things before the Babylonian exile … there’s the Daniel 9. We do not get to choose our time, only how to live in it. We keep trying.
Then in worship we sang “I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” with hand motions, which some of us remembered from Vacation Bible School, and heard more about call – the prophetic call is to carry God’s message, the message you’ve been given, and it changes the person who carries it, and the person who hears it, and sometimes, when that happens (like in Jonah 3), it changes God’s mind … [Jonah 3:10 “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.”] God changes the world through people. Which means: We don’t have to feel burdened with the task of changing the world; God changes the world. But, through us. Through people who answer God’s call. Whether like Jonah – eventually – or right away, like Peter, and Andrew, and James and John. And I sat there and thought: Jesus’ message was that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” And I wonder whether that doesn’t at least include the idea that the kingdom of God is as near us as our next choice, the one we are making … now. The possible world is as close as that. I would like to think it means that, I hope it means that. Or else, I’m afraid it might mean that. I don’t know.
And then in the other Sunday school class we picked up all the animals and put them in the ark to keep them safe.