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The only way I feel that accurately describes the reactions to recent events is panic.  Panic happens when we turn off our thinking.  We just react and we react from a sense of self-preservation.  And we start to do things that are not in our long-term best interest.  We start to seek out “strong” leadership – meaning someone who strike out and destroy the thing that threatens us.  That is if the thing can even really be identified.  Somehow we feel that if we can kill off the thing that threatens us, then we’ll be safe.

Oftentimes, these “strong” leaders aren’t leaders at all.  They are tyrants.  Tyrants don’t show their face in times of peace and prosperity.  They aren’t “needed” then.  There is no vacuum of leadership to fill.

Tyrants ruse up as a plea from the crowd in times of uncertainty and chaos and panic.  The cry goes out – “We need strong leadership.”  The reality, we need strong patience, calmness and thinking.  We need to stop reacting and giving in to panic.

What I see in opposition to this is the church.  The church is really a whole bunch of churches.  But I wonder, is this a time when the church will rise up to meet the challenge we now face – uncertainty, chaos and panic.  Not with a “strong” ruler, but with it’s Gospel message.  It’s a message of hope, calmness and peace.

The church has been in a decline that we see in its membership for some time now.  From what I have observed, this comes in part because the church has had an identity crisis.  Many churches don’t know why they exist, except for the fact that they have existed for some time now.  That’s not a church in my humble opinion – that’s nothing more than club.  So many churches are in chaplaincy mode, or more accurately hospice care – a pastor serving a dying parish and walking them through the stages of death.  That’s not good stewardship of resources.

In this time of uncertainty, chaos and panic, is now the time for the church to reclaim its identity?  Will the church wake up and fill a vacuum that exists in our society – a vacuum that can only be filled with the Gospel message of hope, calmness and peace?

If any time in history needs that message, now would be the time.  Or are we too busy preaching a different gospel – one of fear, God and country, and revenge.  It’s not a heavenly or Christ-like gospel.

So what’s it going to be church? Will it be the church’s time to step up and fill the void with a message of hope, a message of peace, a message of calmness?  Or will the church continue to step aside and allow the void to be filled with the “strong” leadership message that plays on people’s fears, that riles people’s anger and manipulates the panic that is present?