I wanted to write a prayer for this week’s post. I even tried to write a prayer, but I couldn’t. It would be too easy for me to write a poetic prayer that generalized the issues shouting at me from this week’s news. What I see is in jarring opposition to what the lectionary texts proclaim.
I won’t say much more about the NPR article that talks of an increase in adult suicide because I’ve said enough already. But it raised the issue of hopelessness that has pursued me through the week. And after seeing Ironman 3, I am struck by how desperate we are for heroes, for hope, for something stronger than we are that can save us from all danger. On the contrary, Psalm 97 speaks of a God who guards the faithful and rescues them from the wicked. While the language of this Psalm might be a bit outdated, surely there is something here that is relevant and alive today. This God is not absent from the earth unless we all fail to live in God.
Next there is the remarkable story about the three kidnapped women in Cleveland, OH. There is something of the Acts story of release here. It is rather miraculous that a man would break down his neighbor’s door to free a woman screaming for help. We all know stories in which people just stood by and watch violence happen. We will never know how many others walked by as Amanda screamed for help. But a few days ago Charles Ramsey did the unexpected and set three women free. He denies being a hero. Others have pointed out his unfortunate past. However, the moment he set Amanda Berry free, he became a real hero, someone to be admired. What does it matter what he’s done in his past? The Apostle Paul saved a jailer who had done some horrible things and the jailer only witnessed a miracle rather than take part in it.
On a slightly different note, I do have to wonder at the response to Jodi Arias’ conviction. One article said, “Outside the courthouse, crowds cheered.” I understand the need for justice. The woman murdered her lover. She should pay the price. I understand neither the crowds nor the cheers. It adds to my sense that society is desperate to feel safe. Obviously, the day has not yet come when all who are thirsty are free to drink.
Coming full circle, I saw this Coffee with Jesus strip this morning.
It’s perfect for this lectionary reading. It speaks to our need to have hope, feel safe, be loved. It succinctly points at the essence of the Gospel. We live in Christ. Christ lives in us. We worship an indwelling God. There is no need for superheroes or criticizing people who manage to selflessly do the right thing or cheering when a murderer is convicted. Bad things will happen but we will not be alone. We will rejoice with all those who are righteous. We will not celebrate the pain of others.
Finally, I know it’s Mother’s Day. So let’s honor all those who have nurtured us, who have shared their faith with us, who have inspired us to live with courage by shaking the dust off our faith and living in gratitude. If we each do this there is more room for God to dwell, more possibility for hope, joy, and peace.
RCL – Year C – Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 12, 2013
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21