Have you ever thought about the power you have over a remote control? It is an unbelievable power. When I press on the guide button of my television remote control, I can scroll through hundreds of channels and pick what I want to watch. I can switch between channels and even go back to the previous channel I was watching.
The point here is, not only do you have the power to press any of the buttons on the remote control to get it to communicate with a television or another electrical appliance about what you want it to do, but you effectively control a television or another appliance with the remote control in your hands. The interesting bit about a remote control is that anyone - a child, adolescent, young adult, or adult - anyone can use the remote control to watch what they want to watch. That is a power that you have over a gadget that you can control.
The truth about our human story is that there are things within our control, and there are things that are beyond our control. These are some of the things that are within our control: attitude, actions, behavior, what you eat, whom you follow, whom you unfollow, how you speak to yourself, how you react, and many, many more.
There are also things that are beyond our control, such as the actions of another person, or the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. These sorts of things are beyond our control because there wasn’t much that we could have done to stop an earthquake from hitting Turkey or Syria. There wasn’t much that Tyre Nichols could have done to restrain the actions of those Memphis police officers. There was little that Slaves could have done to prevent their owners from being malicious, demeaning, and harsh. The truth is, we simply cannot control the actions of others.
As I have listed above, what is within our control is how we respond to natural disasters like earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. A few days ago, the Chair of Christ Church Outreach Ministry sent out an email to fellow members seeking their input and a vote to donate $750.00 to UNICEF. These funds will directly go towards offering help to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but if every organization or individual who has control over some resources can give their Widow’s Mite, we can all do a lot of good by helping the distressed.
What is within our control is how we respond to the actions of others. It is, indeed, true that none of those presently alive directly participated in Slavery. We didn’t have any control over the actions of those who did. We can also say that we have benefitted from Slavery. And it is within our control to support those who are still carrying the burden of Slavery and other discriminatory policies with our response.
Over the past year, our parish has been working on raising $10,000.00 to support the Diocesan Reparations Fund. We have so far raised $7,900.00, and I am grateful to you all for your kindness and generous giving. I’d like to invite us to use this month of February, Black History Month, to meet our goal. This is one particular response, after all, that is within our control.
I once heard a story about two adults who were very much in love with one another. They both lived in an assisted living facility, had lost their spouses, and were pretty much single. They developed a relationship and found profound and genuine comfort in each other. They kept this relationship from their friends and family because they didn’t want to offend any of their children. It so happened that the woman fell sick, was hospitalized, and was later discharged back to the facility. The gentleman became distraught because he couldn’t spend as much time with his love and couldn’t also tell anyone that he was in a relationship with the woman, just so people could understand why he wanted to spend as much time with her.
He didn’t have any control over the situation of his lover, but he did have control over how he was going to respond. Does he reveal their best-kept secret and violate the confidentiality between them, just so his love's children would be more open to the two of them spending more time together, or does he hold on to their best-kept secret till death? There are no easy answers.
Unlike the remote control, we have some level of control over our actions. And as people of faith, it is important that we recognize that control and use it to the best of our ability and in honor of the God we serve.
We may not have control over some of the things that come our way. But those for which we have control, like love, compassion, forgiveness, healing, mending, grateful giving, and grace, we cannot falter.