I’ve never been accused of planning things way in advance but I started my New Year’s resolution for 2019 in the beginning of November 2018. I made my resolve in November because Leanne and I were in Rome and something really impactful happened there.

Many of you know of my lifelong interest in archaeology. Rome is like Mecca for people like me. There are parts around the city where deep excavation holes reveal multiple layers of cultural occupation, some that go as far back as the early farming communities in Rome 9,000 years ago.

With each level that gets excavated, archaeologists find both evidence of stunning creativity and beautiful artistic expression as well as the remains of war after war. There is detritus of ingenuity and violence. Good emperors turn up in the excavations as well as statues and tributes to some of the worst rulers, who made sport of dehumanizing others. The line from Sarah McLaughlin’s song, “Building a Mystery” comes to mind when she sings about the “beautiful f*cked up mess.”

In places around Rome you can see the evidence of millennia that fit her description. The beautiful and the profane coexist and we leave the evidence of both behind us for others to discover.

And this is the one and same world God loves and has always loved.

This realization was a necessary “aha!” I needed to get a better perspective on what is happening in our own country. I admit I have been carrying some level of anger with me almost every day with our current administration. Not just because I disagree with almost every decision being made, but also because I see so many of those decisions harming and frightening many people in our world, in our country, and sisters and brothers right here in our church.

My unrelenting anxiety and anger below the surface was fueled by a mantra running through my head that said that THIS was not the country I wanted to hand over to my grandchildren. In Rome I was reminded that the good, the bad and the ugly keeps cycling through human history. It reminded me that the greatest impact on my grandchildren would not be having a different president in two years but having a better grandpa who spends more time with them without carrying all that anger and distraction.

Be it so resolved!

Nothing but love,
Mark