Time Warp

RCL – Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 25, 2012

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

My gut reaction to the news this week is: YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! Seriously, I thought this was 2012 not 1912 or 1812. The headlines in this country (and others) focused on women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, children’s rights. When will we learn to treat one another like the human beings that we are?

I really wish people would search for the law of God written on their hearts as Jeremiah prophesied before speaking or acting against another living creature. Would we still be arguing over insurance companies covering birth control or changing abortion laws if people with power attended to human need? Would that Idaho law-maker really have said that women use rape as an excuse for abortion if he was thinking about particular women and not just a political issue? It is heartrending when issues are raised for political gain rather than out of concern for the people directly involved. Who benefits from limiting women’s access to health care? Personally, I can’t think of anyone, except, maybe, a few politicians who get some name recognition out of their fifteen minutes of fame (or notoriety).

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

And, why, for the love of God, are we still fighting about gay marriage? Fortunately, the controversy is over in New Hampshire for the moment. But why do politicians want to “put the vote to the people”? It’s a question of rights, much like civil rights. If civil rights were left up to “the people” in the 1960’s, I think the outcome would have been frighteningly different for many states. It’s a mistake to make a very short part of human history (marriage between one man and one woman) and assume that it is God’s law. Jesus said nothing about gay people or gay marriage. And Christians (of any stripe) don’t have any special ownership of marriage. Marriage is a legal arrangement and faith of any kind is not a requirement. While I don’t agree, I can understand some faith communities disagreeing with gay marriage. What I cannot understand is why state or federal government cares if marriage is gay or straight. I really wish someone could untangle the pseudo-web of theology and politics in this country so we can all move on to much more crucial issues.

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.

Unfortunately, I think one of these more critical problems is still dealing with racial prejudices. Two stories this week disturbed me deeply. The first is about the young black man who was shot and killed in Florida in February. This young man was armed with an ice tea and a bag of candy. He was shot by a security guard who perceived him to be a threat. The kicker? No arrest has yet been made. I still don’t understand why the young man was shot? He had no weapon and I don’t think the security guard is saying that he was attacked, so why was the boy killed? There is no good answer. The only answer is a really ugly one that I have a hard time believing. This really is 2012?

The second story with this theme is from France. A man shot soldiers and Jewish people for no apparent reason. It turns out that the man would have a lot in common with the security guard from Florida. Although, I don’t know who would come out of that meeting alive – the French-Algerian man who killed people who didn’t agree with his beliefs or the Latino-American man who killed someone who didn’t look like him. Why do these things still happen in today’s world? What makes people hate and fear with a seemingly psychotic intensity?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

The last story this week that seems crazy to me is the issue of whether or not minors can be held in prison for life without the possibility of parole. There were two cases presented to the Supreme Court this week which raised this issue. In 2005 it was determined that children convicted of murder could not face the death penalty. They can’t be killed. Can they be kept behind bars for the rest of their lives? What an awful question to have to ask? Would it not be better to ask what is happening with these kids who commit such horrible crimes? Wouldn’t it be better to increase funding for education, mental health, child/family services and other social programs that might help prevent the loss of children? But instead, state after state cuts funding and presidential candidates blame people for needing social services. Sure, it’s better to under-serve children at risk and then lock them up permanently (because we can’t kill them) when they show how neglected and/or abused they have been by committing violent crimes.

I don’t know about you, but “my soul is troubled” and I can only hope and pray that people will live into those days that Jeremiah said “are surely coming.” I don’t know what more God can do for us, if we don’t start living out what is within us…

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