Rector's Ramblings December 16, 2020
It has been interesting to follow the news about this season’s shipping woes. Every article about FedEx or UPS takes me back to my days when I worked for Big Brown. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was always intense. We weren’t allowed days off; we hired a ton of seasonal workers; our days stretched well beyond the hours the sun was up on both ends of the day. We did whatever it took to get the packages delivered or moved on to their next stop. Once in a while, we might fail with a few packages, or a trailer wouldn’t pull out on time and would miss a connection, but those instances were rare when compared with the sheer volume of packages that moved through our center right on time.
It's mind-boggling to read that UPS (and other carriers) stopped picking up packages from some large retailers a few weeks ago. In anticipation of the pandemic-fueled explosion in online shopping, they had warned some customers that they would have to ration pickups and deliveries. Some companies were told that they could only ship so many packages a day or a week, because the systems simply couldn’t handle any more. After Black Friday, a host of sellers found that the warning wasn’t idle. Just this week I’m reading that there are so many parcels in the systems of our major carriers that it’s almost like gridlock. Backups in one place cascade and affect others.
It’s just one more opportunity to say, “thanks, 2020!” This is a fitting way to close out the year, I suppose. A snowball effect as everything piles up on itself. Between the pandemic, unemployment and financial woes, a brutal election cycle that is still making history and won’t go away, the lack of easy, safe family gatherings, and now Christmas presents maybe not getting delivered on time (or potentially anything else for that matter), it’s quite the year. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, right? Well, let’s hope it doesn’t get much darker!
Things will begin to turn around soon. There are little spots of light on the horizon. While we may not have peaked (hit bottom?) with regard to the pandemic, now that multiple vaccines are on the way, things are looking up. It won’t get better tomorrow or next month, but it is a turning point, nonetheless. This week marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic, even if it takes another year or more to fully chase this virus into harmless oblivion.
It may yet be ugly for a while, but it seems that this week also marked a turning point in the 2020 elections. Clearly, we’re still divided, but the Electoral College vote seems to be orienting more and more people to what comes next; many persons and leaders who were reluctant to assume anything about the election’s outcome have named this step as somewhat definitive. I don’t know what normal political life looks like, or if we even want it back, but I think we’ve all had enough of the 2020 election. It’s time to try something new.
The Advent light is certainly shining in the darkness in different ways. It’s ironic that the very same shipping companies that are backed up with packages like a log jam are also able to help distribute the first doses of the COVID vaccines. Even in the mess and the struggle, there is growth and hope and progress. We’re not much different. We are a mess, and we get bogged down and tripped up. Through all of it we still carry with us the light of our Christ, fueled by the love of our creator. Jesus arrived in the midst of some pretty awful realities. Remember that his family had to flee to Egypt so that he wouldn’t be murdered by Herod. Despite that turmoil, God’s plan marched forward and something wonderful came out of it. We march forward as well.
It might be a bit too soon to look in the rear-view mirror on 2020 and assess all the places light shone, or to be able to find the hope and the gift of these days and months. Right now, it’s still a bit too dark and the piles are too high for us to adequately see over them. In time, that perspective will change. Until it does, I’m content to know that although I can’t always see it, God’s purposes are working themselves out, even when we don’t have a tracking number to follow their progress. I’ll just have to wait for those promises to be delivered, for they will be delivered...eventually.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Photo Credits: UPS Truck, MobiusDaXter, via CC BY-SA 3.0; Vaccine, via pixnio.com, Public Domain.