As the liturgical year nears its end, the Gospel reading rightfully raises the question of what we do with our gifts. It would be easy enough to ask this question individually. We know if we are giving back based on what we have been given or if we have have left our gifts hidden and untouched. Certainly, reflecting on this is a good spiritual practice every now and then. What happens if we ask this question of a congregation or denomination or the whole of the Christian Church? We who are the body of Christ in the world, what are we doing with what we have been given?
I wonder about the Church and what we do with the gifts we have been so freely given. I don’t want to talk about the nuances of theology or doctrine or what membership requires. I want us to make a difference in the world because we embody Christ. I’m particularly desirous of changing the world for the better this week because of three news stories I encountered this week.
The first is: 47 people killed in bombing outside Nigerian school; Boko Haram suspected As I drove to work on Monday, I listened to this story on the radio. Boko Haram, the same group responsible for kidnapping more girls than we know, bombed a boys’ school. This extremist group is at least as terrifying as ISIS if not more so. Why did news of Kim Kardashian’s latest exploits eclipse this story very quickly? Moreover, what are we doing to prevent religious extremism and the fear and hatred that comes right along with them?
The second news story is: Top Delinquent Mine Has Deadly Legacy I don’t live in a mining community and I don’t think I know anyone who does. However, I was horrified that this kind of thing can still happen in 2014. Coal mining companies fined for safety violations and resulting deaths only to have the companies default on the fines. What’s worse is that they continue to operate mines and put people’s lives at risk. Why are these companies not shut down and why aren’t more people demanding safe and fair labor practices for these miners?
The third story is: Supervisor threatens to hang worker for drinking from ‘white people’ fountain This is outrageous! Many of my friends and colleagues believe that racism is a “non-issue.” Clearly, it is not a non-issue if things like this can happen. Quite frankly, this story leaves me nearly speechless. I don’t even know what more to say except to ask, how seriously do we engage in conversations around racism? Are we doing all that we can to stop these kinds of things from happening?
Because I found myself asking, “How can this be happening in 2014?” too many times this week, I am asking our churches what they are doing with the abundance of gifts we have been given? It’s time to take our talents out of the sand.
In the meantime, please join with me in praying Psalm 123:
To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of subjects
look to the hand of their ruler,
so our eyes look to the Sovereign our God,
until God has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O God, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
and its fill of the contempt of the proud.
Photo used with permission. Unsplash.com
RCL – Year A – Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost – November 16, 2014
Judges 4:1-7 with Psalm 123 or
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 with Psalms 90:1-8 (9-11), 12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11