Thursday, March 19, 2009

Response to the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter on the Financial Crisis

I have only read the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter regarding "the worsening financial crisis around us" once. As a person in the pews, in that one reading, I am actually comforted to know that my church's bishops are reminding us to turn to our Triune God and the lessons of Scripture and our Christian tradition to find solace, strength and renewal. I am heartened by the fact that they view the current economic crisis as not being isolated in history by the mere movements of the secular white collar criminals and institutions that have led us down this awful path. It has taken years for us to get to where we are today as a nation of excess, greed and entitlement. Our whole country and culture is one of privilege. I consider the pastoral letter in that sense an appropriate exercise of leadership.

Personally, I am sitting in a house that is upside down right now. We owe more than the house is worth due to an over 35% drop in market values in Boulder County. Our retirement portfolio has declined by over 40%. Yet I am strengthened by being reminded by my religious leaders to look at myself and my situation in perspective. As a first generation Chinese American, I am grateful that my church leaders remind my brethren of something that I try to remind others of all the time, which is that even the poor in America are rich by global standards. My spiritual button was reset recently when we had to evacuate our house for a fast-moving wildfire. It only took about 30 seconds for me to realize that everything except for my mother and my cat could be replaced and didn't matter. But perhaps the experience of my refugee family background - of having to leave China with only what you could carry in a suitcase - has prepared me emotionally for where we are today. I finally "get" the Beatitudes.

I don't read the bishops' letter as telling us to forego our own internal justice issues. Rather, I see them reminding us not to be so distracted by taking care of our own that we forget that there is a whole world outside of the church where others and we, also, live that needs our attention.

My family may end up losing our house at some point either due to the economy or to illness, but we will never be without a roof to sleep under. We will always have an extended family that will love and care for us. I can't turn my attention inward to focus on taking care of my family when my eyes have been opened by being a follower of Jesus to look at the suffering of others, which is worse than our suffering. We who have been equipped with gifts to do ministry are called, today, more than yesterday, to do multiple ministries, to divide our attention, to look in many directions, sometimes seeming to be all at the same time, and to answer many calls for help and succour. I pray constantly that God will grant us grace and mercy to be able to do even a piece of the work.

1 comment:

Laurie Gudim and Rosean Amaral said...

Amen, amen, amen!! Thanks, Lelanda. And may God show us how to transform our ruminations into fruitful action in the months to come.