Monday, February 21, 2011

Seeing Evil

I have spent time with the Board of Ordained Ministry twice in recent weeks as we interview candidates for ordained ministry. I relish in the opportunity to have theological discussions, to learn new things, to be reinvigorated about the future of our church, and to spend time with precious colleagues. Without fail, I always return home wrestling with some of the same topics with which we have wrestled with the candidates. What is grace? What is the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and how do you apply it to an ethical issue? How would you respond to this issue if it were to happen in your church? What is evil? How does evil work in our world?

After wrestling with evil last week I saw evil firsthand with my own eyes on Saturday. Taking advantage of a recent Groupon that offered half-price admission, Craig and I journeyed to the Newseum on Saturday afternoon. Our visit started with our eyes being overwhelmed by light as we marveled at the glass structure and its magnificent views of Washington. But it did not take long for the darkness to become more powerful than the light.

Our eyes gazed upon several pieces of the Berlin Wall as we imagined what it must have been like to wake up one day separated from the rest of the city. It did not take long to start thinking about other walls that have been created - barriers created with wire and concrete and barriers created with minds and hearts.

We marveled at a twisted piece of a tower that used to stand tall upon the World Trade Center and looked at how newspapers reported the events of 9/11. We saw bodies falling and people running. We saw with our eyes the power of a decision that involves a few people - how a person's actions can impact thousands and thousands of people.

We also heard the cries of the people of New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina, watching and listening to desperate mothers and the children shouting for food and drink. We heard their cries and then listened to the story of how so many of these voices were not really heard at the time - how we all turned our backs at first.

We saw evil. I saw evil lurking around every corner. I saw what happens when goodness is overcome with evil, when an ordinary Tuesday becomes a nightmare, when a storm exposes the sin of our nation.

I could not sleep on Saturday night.
I woke up feeling heavy on Sunday morning.
I then heard a different voice harkening from the darkness.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome the light.

I have come that you might have life and life abundant.

Consider the lilies of the field...and imagine how much more God cares for you.

Have no anxiety about anything.

We have a savior. We have a savior who came into the world and promises that no matter how harsh this world might be, this harshness does not have the final world. We have a savior who tells us stories about arms open wide ready to welcome home prodigal children no matter what. We have a savior who lived a life that showed us how to live and then died a most violent death so that we might all live again. We have a savior, and this savior and not the evil one, has the final word. Thanks be to God.

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