A Word from Teresa – 10/4/18

Like most seminary students, I remember reading Karl Barth’s well-quoted words: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” (This Karl Barth quote was referred to in a sermon by University UMC pastors earlier this year. See link below.)

Perhaps we should edit the quote to read, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and radio, and television, and social media accounts…”

How does being a Christian impact our response to the news? How does being a Christian impact our responses on social media? The weight of the daily news cycle can be discouraging at best and soul-crushing at worst. Whether it’s news of the more than 800 lives lost in Indonesia following a tsunami or the report of children being detained in a tent city in south Texas, our hearts are heavy these days. I think of the poem by Warsan Shire that concludes:

                later that night

                i held an atlas in my lap

                ran my fingers across the whole world

                and whispered

                where does it hurt?

                 it answered

                everywhere

                everywhere

                everywhere.

 

While it can be tempting to turn off the news and turn our heads away, we are called to have our hearts broken by the things that break God’s heart. We are called to pray and to care. We are called to speak out against injustice and to speak up for the oppressed. We are called to find ways to help others. We are called to live peacefully with one another. The Bible speaks to all these things.

I am surprised at how often the lectionary texts speak to current events. When I served in the local church, I didn’t always preach the lectionary. Sometimes I found sermon series a refreshing approach. Still, the three year cycle of assigned scripture readings for the week (known as the lectionary) can be both comforting and convicting.

The last Sunday of September came after the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. Many preachers looked to the lectionary readings and found in them a message from God for our times. Several referred to the story of Esther from the Old Testament and preached about the power of a woman who raised her voice in order to save her people. Others looked to the reading from James that speaks of the power of prayer, healing, and the forgiveness of sins (James 5:13-20). Still others centered their sermon on the Gospel reading where Jesus teaches many lessons including “don’t be a stumbling block for the weak” and “rid yourself of that which causes you to sin.” And finally, “Keep peace with each other”(Mark 9:38-50).

I am grateful for preachers and non-preachers alike who keep the scriptures nearby when reading the news. It takes courage.

Be encouraged,

teresa