Responding with Hope to Bad News
We’re hearing bad news these days.
- Rich men using and trafficking vulnerable girls and women as instruments of sexual gratification.
- Suicide and drug overdose rates soaring, especially among rural white men.
- Children continue to be separated from their parents and held at the border, sometimes without adequate food, water, medical care or a place to sleep.
- Growing numbers of people sleeping under bridges, in green belts and their cars due to gentrification and a crisis in affordable housing in many urban centers.
- Nationalism and racism have found a public voice in America again and anew. “Go back where you came from” is a taunt that comes of un-addressed white privilege and supremacy.
These are not merely partisan political issues. These are signs of spiritual and identity disease in the human family. Jesus never heard of Republicans or Democrats. But he was a careful observer of people and human communities, and an unfailing teacher of what healthy community life looks like.
This week, let’s remember Jesus teaching and example. The Bible offers more than 60 passages about widows, orphans, aliens, the poor and the outcast (you can google that). They remind the reader that God’s love extends especially to people who live under duress, who are overlooked, taken advantage of, kept on the outskirts of civil society.
Jesus calls people like you and me to live in ways that invite people into “beloved community.” People of faith should encourage just public policy that heals the dis-eases that cast shadows on people on the margins.
- Pray this Sunday, and during the week ahead, that out of the neglect, abuse, blame and hate that seems to run rampant in our world right now, God will work through us, and in spite of us, to cultivate “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and yes, self-control”(Galatians 5: 22).
- Educate yourself and resource others by visiting the websites of our United Methodist general agencies who help us put Jesus principles into practice:
- The Board of Church and Society to learn how our UMC is addressing issues of social justice. https://www.umcjustice.org/
- The Commission on Religion and Race. http://www.gcorr.org/
- The Commission on the Status and Role of Women. https://gcsrw.org/
- The Board of Global Ministries. https://www.umcmission.org/
- Ask yourself how you are helping God give life to the people around you. Make a plan to intentionally cultivate God’s
kin-dom. Keep a list of the actions you take. to build God’s kin-dom.
- Read the newspaper, social media or watch TV prayerfully.
- Speak kind words to people you encounter day by day.
- Write your elected official.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper.
- Post a good word on social media.
- Join (or organize) a public witness.
- Initiate or sponsor a public forum to promote deeper understanding and engagement in solutions.
The best remedy I know of to all of this bad news is hope grounded in prayer, discernment and deliberate action with others. When we respond to injustice, especially as we do so in community, we can break free from the shackles of despair and find new life where once there was only fear and death. This, my friends, is the good news!
Jesus has shown us the way. Take another step.
Elaine JW Stanovsky