May, 2013 Minister’s Message
“You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
Lanelle texted me. I didn’t reply. I was in prayer. My brother called me. I didn’t answer. Then he texted me: “Are you safe?” I didn’t reply. I was in prayer. My sister called me. I didn’t answer, but by then I had lost all sense of being in God’s presence. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, got to about, “Thy will be done,” and Lanelle called me. I figured somebody had died or gotten hurt badly for the communication to be coming in like this.
I answered the phone. Rather than her usually subdued voice, she was emoting. “Pastor Mark! Have you heard from anyone?” I replied, “My phone has been buzzing, but I haven’t answered. What’s going on?” Lanelle replied, “You’re kidding, right? Seriously? You haven’t heard?” I could tell she was bursting at the seams, so said, “Lanelle, tell me what’s going on.” She replied, “Where is Steve?” I asked, “Steve who?” She replied, “Steve Nelson.” I told her he was at the Marathon with his staff and freelancers taking pictures. She gasped, “Oh my God!” I asserted again, “Lanelle. Please tell me what has happened.” And she told me what she knew of the unfolding Boston Marathon bombing. I was grateful for her call.
April 15, 2013, Patriots Day. A day we will remember. God, bless the survivors. God, bless the rescue workers. God, bless Boston. God, bless America. God, bless everyone - everywhere.
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As I write this column on April 17th, news reports are conflicted - they have a suspect in custody or they don’t have a suspect. He’s a lone Saudi national or part of a terror cell. Today is Day 3 of this tragedy and I am numb, on the verge of tears, tired, sad, and frustrated. And I haven’t watched a minute of television. Some of my Facebook friends have. They are giving minute-byminute commentary based upon what the TV news is saying. I sense the anxiety, the anger, “the hunger for vengeance,” as one person posted this morning.
I understand people’s sense of needing to have information as it happens, but it doesn’t do us any good. Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. In fact, there are times when knowledge inhibits wisdom. We have too much data to process with up-to-the-second information.
I receive the news delivered electronically every morning – several sources. There are days that I only look to see if I know anyone in the obituaries … or if I’m there myself. (Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t slipped over to the other side!) I don’t feel I have to know all that is going on in the world. That’s God’s job, not ours. Quite frankly, I don’t care about many of the things going on in the world, especially the way they’re delivered on television.
You know that TV news is no longer news, right? It’s entertainment. The more sensational, the better, and the more advertising dollars are generated. FOX News and MSNBC are the same thing – just different sides of the same worthless coin. The only real value is to the advertisers … and the fear mongers, the spin doctors, and those who aspire to take more mind numbing substances. Why do we do that to ourselves?
Ecclesiastes inspires us: “Light is sweet …” (11:7). Look for the Light! It implores us … “Banish anxiety from your mind …” (11:10). Step away from the television!
The truth will be known in God’s good time, and in God’s good way. If you’re staying glued to the television for truth, you won’t find it there. Look for the Light … in flesh and blood human interaction … in nature … in memories … in old photos … in prayer … in children, and in face-to-face story.
It’s okay not to know everything. It’s okay to “be out of the loop.”
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
I’m still grieving and likely will be for some time. But I’m doing it my way, without the hype, and in God’s good time.
For now I need to pray, “God, please, bless us, everyone, on earth as you do in heaven.”