Looking for “The Morning After”

The World Turned Upside Down

If you remember The Poseidon Adventure, you know why I don’t recommend it as a pleasant diversion on New Year’s Eve!

The classic disaster movie is the nail-biting and utterly-preposterous story of the passengers on an aging luxury liner that was making its final voyage across the Atlantic when an underground earthquake on New Year’s Eve caused a tsunami that turned the ship upside down.

Gene Hackman played a preacher of questionable theology who led a star-studded cast to climb the now upside-down Christmas tree that led to a harrowing journey through the underbelly of the ship and who ultimately gave his life to help them escape.

Nominated for nine Academy Awards, it won Best Original Song for Maureen McGovern singing, “There’s Got to Be A Morning After” which went on to be a No. 1 single. You can hear her sing it with clips from the movie here. But the lyrics are what matter for us today.

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on looking for the light


Oh, can’t you see the morning after?
It’s waiting right outside the storm
Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm?


It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time


There’s got to be a morning after
We’re moving closer to the shore
I know we’ll be there by tomorrow
And we’ll escape the darkness
We won’t be searching anymore

Are you ever tempted to wonder whether there will be a morning after?
Do you feel like some underground earthquake turned our lives upside down?
Will we ever get through the pandemic and see each other face-to-face again?
Will our democracy survive the deepening political divide to reclaim a sense of the “common good”?
Will the Christian faith in America recover from the white “evangelicals” exchange of the good news Jesus proclaimed for the “Big Lie” of the MAGA movement?
Can we find our way through this difficult and disorienting time to a “new normal” that preserves the best of our past and guides us to a hopeful future?
Is there really any hope for a “Happy New Year”?

An Irrational Hope

Sometimes the hope for “a morning after” seems as irrational as the preposterous plot of a disaster movie. That’s certainly how it was when the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, came on the scene. The Israelites were in exile with no reason to expect that they would ever return to Jerusalem. And yet, Jeremiah declared the irrational hope of God’s promise to them.

Again, I will build you up,
    and you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel.
Again, you will play your tambourines
    and dance with joy.
Again, you will plant vineyards
    on the hills of Samaria;
    farmers will plant and then enjoy the harvests.
(Jeremiah 31:3-6)

The only reason for that kind of irrational hope is that Jeremiah heard the Lord say:

I have loved you with a love that lasts forever.
    And so with unfailing love,
        I have drawn you to myself.
(31:2)

The word “again” hooked my attention. Again and again, we see signs of God fulfilling the promise of compassion, justice, freedom, and life. But again and again, the forces of hatred, racism, greed, injustice and selfishness push back with their relentless and diobolical force. But again and again, God sends prophets like Jeremiah to remind us of God’s hope for our world, to hold us accountable to that hope, and to call us again to participate in its fulfillment.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of those prophets. When the hope for freedom and justice in South Africa was as irrational as Jeremiah’s promise to the Israelites, Tutu continued to lift the promise of “a morning after” and called faithful people to actively engage in making the promise a reality.

Tutu’s daughter called him “an equal opportunity irritant.” He wept like Jeremiah when his people failed to live up to that promise and he danced for joy when they did. God used him to turn this world upside-down so that it would be right-side up in alignment with God’s purpose of love.

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on looking for the light

Let’s commit ourselves to do all we can to make 2022 a Hopeful New Year! Thanks to friend and colleague, Ginger Gaines-Cirelli for sharing these words from Howard Thurman.

I make an act of faith toward all mankind,
Where doubts would linger and suspicions brood.
I make an act of joy toward all sad hearts,
Where laughter pales and tears abound.
I make an act of strength toward feeble things,
Where life grows dim and death draws near.
I make an act of trust toward all of life,
Where fears preside and distrust keeps watch.
I make an act of love toward friend and foe,
Where trust is weak and hate burns bright.
I make a deed to God of all my days,
And look out on life with quiet eyes.
–Howard Thurman, “The Sacrament of Christmas”

Grace and peace,

Jim

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4 thoughts on “Looking for “The Morning After”

  1. Jim, I thank you so much for, again, sending out the message I needed to hear today. I was pretty blue with his backslide of Omicron & the return to times of high caution. The dimness of out winter days on Tally hasn’t helped either. I’m reminded again of the need for a tiny sprig of hope.

    Much love to you & yours in t
    his new year.
    Amy

  2. Beautiful and inspiring, Jim — Thanks for your uplifting posts.

  3. As always, appreciating your words of wisdom! Especially important as we head into a New Year, but equally important for those ordinary life events that turn our world upside down.
    Thankful for you!

  4. Patti Aupperlee January 2, 2022 — 4:59 pm

    Thank you for this perspective.

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