by Don Dewey, Co-Regional Minister/President
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34
Have you ever stopped and ask yourself, “Shat’s going on here?" Lately I have found myself asking this question again and again. Since the beginning of this year's presidential race and listening to several of the proposed candidates spewing angry, hateful and derogatory words toward others in our communities, and I have had to stop ask, “What’s going on here?"
I pick up the morning paper and almost everyday I read of bombings, killings, ISIS, police shootings and horrible stories of kidnappings and more, and I have had to stop and ask, “What’s going on here?"
Then, like the rest of the world I woke up on a Sunday a couple weeks ago to hear of the horrific tragedy in Orlando where 49 innocent people were gunned down by a person who I can only believe was not in his right mind, and ask, “What’s going on here?”
And perhaps the most mind boggling of them all was to later read about Pastors in this country, who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ make outrageous statements that they wish all the survivors of the Orlando shooting would die or that our government should “round up all gays” and shoot them in the head, and I have had to stop and ask, “What’s going on here?"
Perhaps as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “…there is nothing new under the sun.” Yes I know we human beings have always known of persons who have done good things and those who have done bad things. We have had evil personified through hatred and war and killings and more throughout time. I also know that it is always (most always) the terrible tragedies that capture our media’s attention and that everyday good people doing good things that never make the news.
However, it just seems that we have devolved into a more hateful, distrustful and fearful place in our world and our communities than I at least remember or have known. It can feel like all civility and human value has been cast aside and a “Lord of the Flies” mentality has taken over. So I stop and ask, “What’s going on here?"
In a much more significant way, I wonder if this is in part what many of our Jewish brothers and sisters were asking during the Nazi reign when millions were being killed and hauled off to concentration camps. No, we are nowhere near that right now, but it is scary times.
Perhaps because the question “What’s going on here?” can often lead to the next question “Where is God in all this?” Some may be asking this today. Certainly many dying in those German concentration camps began questioning God’s existence and whether or not God had abandoned them. Some may have in fact believed that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was right when he wrote in 1882 “Gott ist tot," God is dead.
Yet for those of us who not only believe in a God who is in fact alive and well, but also one who has created and loves all of humanity, we cling to light amidst the darkness and do not lose hope. The extravagant love of God revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus remind us again and again that love and life and goodness ultimately triumph over hatred and death and destruction.
I remember sitting in New Testament class and studying the book of Revelations, a book in scripture that many people find troubling or confusing. The professor said to all of us, “Actually the book of Revelations is the easiest book to understand. In the end," he said, “Love wins!”
This may sound somewhat simplistic but I do think it is a simple truth found throughout our scriptures. This is in part why the cross is such a powerful and transformative symbol for Christians. Out of the horrific tragedy of the crucifixion (the worlds NO to life) comes the joy and power of the Resurrection (God’s YES to life). Out of the worst we can do to a human being God redeems it to become the means of grace and love for all humanity.
So maybe asking the question, “What’s going on here?” or even “Where is God in all this?” is not the right question(s). Instead I want to invite you, along with myself, to ask “How can I be the voice of love and grace, how can my life, my actions lead others to love and grace?” I think this is more in line with the life and teachings of Jesus.
President Jimmy Carter has said, “What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.”
Let’s add more love, more grace, more forgiveness, more understanding, more kindness, more hope into our world. Let’s not be guided by fear, or mistrust, or suspicion or anything that can lead to destruction and hate. Let God’s goodness flood our world in and through us, God’s resurrection people, as a hope-filled healing balm in our hurting and troubled world.
Together on the journey,
Don & Susan