In the days before the inauguration, I viewed a four-hour documentary on PBS. Called “The Divided States of America,” it examined how Americans grew far apart during the presidency of Barack Obama. Grief gripped me as I watched. Frame after frame revealed the unrestrained hatred of countless Americans for our former president. . . What was its source?
Great question: Is Job blessed because things turned out well? Can he be happy–be satisfied, have peace, sing “It is well with my soul”–without the happy ending? Is Jesus blessed while he is on the cross, still unaware of what shall come? How critical to your own life–and even to the planet’s–your answer is!
Can a new thing be said about Easter? I don’t think so. Were there a new thing to say—a new twist—whose twist? Whose gospel? Mine? And yet repeating old thoughts is just slogans, which are not worth saying twice. Are we then stuck? Throughout its ages, religion has very often gotten stuck in its old thoughts and power has always been the sticking point . . .
. . . Thus, after a long affliction, there was a revolution in Egypt. The people had been treated harshly. Their labors were hard, their pay like slave wages. Then, on the wing of an exterminating angel moving swiftly over the land, the oppression in Egypt crumbled. According to Exodus, it happened one night. According to our newer news, it happened in one fortnight of February 2011. Now, the whole world is astonished as Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Libya, and even Iraq at last feel movements of the people against their oppressors. But it is too soon to guess what governance the people will secure in these lands. Trusting an ancient pattern, let us undertake to think more clearly about our times by returning to Israel’s central story of liberation in Egypt. . .
Have you ever encountered an evangelical . . . owner of a new car? By “evangelical,” I do not for the moment have in mind a Christian evangelical, but rather a person with a very positive attitude about a personal experience—and they want to talk about it. “Oh man! You just gotta drive this. The torque, the control, these seats. And you have not heard sound—Beethoven never heard Beethoven—like you hear in here. Try it. You gotta get one.” Now that’s an evangelical! Have you never been evangelical?
Let us turn to the city of Corinth, A.D. 50. What news? Bad news. The church of Christ has been behaving badly from the beginning. There is a good news side to this bad news, however. The fact that we tell the story that then and now and throughout history, our churches have failed to grasp their purpose proves that some ships have been righted from grave wrongs and sailed on after the storms, guarding their treasures and handing them on for the living. That, and only that, is what is worthy in a tradition.