I can’t be the only one whose head threatens to spin at the onslaught of disturbing headlines. (Am I?) Political maneuverings, distorted and abusive relationships, global posturing, cruel violence, name calling all call for our attention. So, I turn to the scripture preparing us for worship and find that, again, the news is full of disasters.
You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. Isaiah 64:5
You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves. Psalm 80: 6
"But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.-Mark 13: 24-25
What’s a preacher to say? Where’s an everyday Jesus follower to look? The day after the July 2016 disaster in Nice, France, when a truck was used as a weapon to mow down innocent pedestrians, NPR recorded a young father leaving the cathedral, “I came because I think I need to be here trying to find hope to live.” He had not been to church in many years, but the cavern unearthed in his spirit sought God in the place he remembered.
Even as we enter the holiday season of parties and feasting, our world is full of God hungry people. Some (of us) will try to fill the space with physical satisfactions. Others (of us) will seek emotional fulfillment in the stories, songs, gatherings and memories. Neither healthy physical delights nor healthy emotional experiences are bad, yet neither can fill the God-space at the very center of each of our lives. What’s your favorite distraction/idol from the hunger that only God can satisfy? What would it take to help you/me remember where real satisfaction is found?
My dear friend, the news is full of hope and promise.
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. -Isaiah 64: 8
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved -Psalm 80: 17-19
So also, when you see these things taking place,
you know that he [the Christ] is near, at the very gates. Mark 13:29
Two days after the massacre in Las Vegas, NPR interviewed a young mother out looking for a way she and her two daughters could help. But the Blood Bank appointments were full, enough snacks had been donated to the shelters… She was awed by, “so many people trying to help.” She tasted the goodness of the Lord, grace pouring out over the pain. Where could she go with the God hunger welling up in her, hunger to reach out and serve?
Is your church ready to walk with the God hungry? United Methodist Bishop Janice Huie was speaking about leadership in the changing church, when one pastor confessed, “I was trained not to change lives but to produce church members.” Ouch.
If the coming Christmas (Christ’s birth) is to be true good news, we’ll need to be ready to receive each other as more than audiences for the manger scene. We’ll need to be ready to invite one another into God’s salvation story. If you need help doing that, please get in touch with me. And may be this Advent season be preparation at the hands of the potter preparing us cracked pots to be vessels of God’s light and love.
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.