Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth Genesis 11:9Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Acts 2:5-6
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. John 14:26
I heard on the national news the other day that in about five years there will be more people who are over age 65, than those less than five years old. I am not sure if this is globally or nationally. But there is reason for alarm that there are more aging people than the rest of the population can support. To my knowledge, nobody is advocating the solution that Thomas Malthus (a clergyman!) advocated back in the 1790s, that we need: disease, war, natural disasters and famine to keep the population down. That was my Economics 101 lesson in college. Since childhood, I was taught that technology will solve our problems. In fact, as I do the Math, I am supposed to be flying in a space car like the "Jetsons."
Well, suffice it to say, technology has let us down several times. It has been like the Genesis 11 "Tower of Babel." A couple quick examples might be the good ship "Titanic" that was to be technology in his finest form. It sunk after going too fast and hitting an iceberg. There were not enough lifeboats on board for the passengers in order to make more space. Many of us have lived through other technology crashes such as the "dot com and real estate bubbles" bursting. Again, another Tower of Babel to remind us that technology brings as much danger as benefit, but those who are making the money continue to convince us to build another Tower.
Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2) reminds us that God wants to bring the people as a community together to be in dialogue and live connected to one another. Solving problems such as birth control need not be "rocket science" as long as we know the facts and are willing to discuss such topics as, "quality of life and quaintly of life, what medical care risks exceed their benefits etc." I discuss these topics with my catechism class students. Pentecost reminds us it is a matter of community gathering together to discuss, deliberate and decide what needs to be done for the greatest good (that was the definition of "ethics" where I went to seminary).
If we are still lost, Ronald Heifetz has a book that by now aging about, "Leadership without Easy Answers." He argues that when there are enough resources around, leaders are "managers of prosperity." In times of tight resources, community life is not like fixing a light bulb or putting on a new roof. Nope the whole structure needs to be re-wired, and construction priorities need to be majorly overhauled. But the quick fix "light bulb" voices often prevail.
In terms of mainline churches, which I am a member of in NW Ohio, there is alarm that the our congregations will not be able to sustain resident clergy for too much longer due to population shifts, lower birth rates among families and prevailing secular attitudes in the culture. Here I plug in the John 14 text to see what wisdom has worked in the past. If there are three mainline congregations, each with a part-time pastor whom each is having a hard time paying while budgets slide downward...hmmm....I only got a "B" in Algebra, but wouldn't it make sense to share a pastor in order to either cut the budget in half by two thirds? It is not rocket science to figure out that many of our problems do have solutions, if only the community of faithful believers came together to decide what quality of life we desire. Small communities such as ours here in Ada, Ohio are in a position to lead the way. Jesus' wisdom was that we "may have and have it abundantly (John 10:10)." I do believe in small towns and our churches. Amen.