of good and evil

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The problem of evil remains one of faith’s greatest mysteries. If God is so loving, why, OH WHY does so much evil exist? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do horrible people reap benefits while others suffer?

In today’s gospel reading, a leper came to Jesus asking to be cured. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus, moved with pity, healed him. (Mark 1).

How many humble prayers are raised each day? Prayers for healing. Prayers for peace. Prayers for good to overcome the darkness and uncertainty that overwhelms our lives.

“God, I know you can…if you wish…please make it so!”

And yet, our prayers remain unanswered. Bad things keep happening to good people while the truly rotten thrive. We try to be people of faith, but our faith is tested over and over. Words that comforted us in the past now sound like empty, pious platitudes. All we see is the evil before us.

Life is not fair.

The world is heading to hell in a hand basket.

As each year ends, justice and peace seem more unattainable.

And yet…

There are glimmers of hope around the world. Pockets of resistance are morphing into national and global movements. Women are rising together against violence, inequality and sexual abuse. The young and the old are filling the streets, raising their voices against unjust leaders and governments. There is a renewed urgency for peace.

Evil has always been, but so has goodness. In the midst of the darkest times, brave women and men have risen to speak truth to power. They know what they “wish”, and they aren’t going to sit back and wait for someone to make it happen. Moved with pity, they are determined to make it so.

And, so we pray.

And, so we do.

 

 

 

of kings and wise men

We use the terms “Kings” and “Wise Men” interchangeably to describe the mystery men from the east who followed a star to Bethlehem. Does it matter? I don’t think so. But, I do think it matters when it comes to leadership. Kings/Queens or Wise Men/Women? How we view our leaders and, more importantly, how they view themselves has a huge impact on leadership styles and expectations.

The history of our church, past and recent, is filled with scoundrels who sought/seek leadership roles for grandeur, prestige and power along with excessive fashions and symbols of monarchy. Stroll through some famous cathedrals and churches for proof that the institutional Body of Christ has often lacked the humility of its founder. Our ecclesial structures rival world palaces for riches and over the top decadence. Our church has been more often ruled by “kings” than wise men.

The contrast between wise leaders and would-be kings is blatantly apparent in the current political situation in America.

I’m reading “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White-House” by Michael Wolff. It has a “tell-all” gossipy tone to it, but it doesn’t stray too far from what has already been leaked and reported from inside the Trump conclave. The book reads like a sleazy, reality TV show. Take a mix of attention and power seeking individuals, lock them up in a confined space, and watch them battle to the death for an illusive crown/title.

Or, think of a “Game of Thrones” epic battle for crowns and dominions. Alliances are made and broken. Heads roll. Mad men and women rule. Ordinary women and men are used as pawns for evil agendas. All that counts is getting power and holding on to it.

The idea of absolute power by divine right has been largely laid to rest in most of the world. Absolute power is incompatible with democracy. And yet…

What used to be the most powerful democracy in the world is now led by a despot who has lived his life surrounding himself with the trappings of a king. His gold and marble world may be as fake as he is, but he truly believes that he and he alone is the possessor of truth and wisdom. He is the smartest, most stable genius. He is accountable to no one. Any and all challenges to his leadership are “fake news”.

Going back to the Epiphany story, we know the danger of mad kings. Herod was a paranoid king, fearful of any and all who endangered his hold on power. He received news of a possible usurper to his throne and went crazy. We know Herod’s horrific response; the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent babes. Evil power has no empathy. It knows no bounds.

The world needs, more than ever, wise leaders.

Wise women and men do not react impulsively, but patiently read the signs of the times in their quest for truth, justice and peace. They observe, listen, ponder and speak with careful discernment. When they see the “star”, they leave present comfort with nothing but a hope that the journey will bring future enlightenment.

Wise women and men do not fear the unknown. The unknown nudges them to seek clarity and wisdom from other wise souls. They take risks, without risking the lives of those they serve.

The world needs wise leaders.

And, for the sake of the world, we need to dethrone mad “kings”.

 

 

 

teaching to love…and hate

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3

When it comes to the wee ones in my life, I’m a smother lover. There is no greater joy as a Mama, and now Grammy, then to wrap my arms around a child. Holding them close. Rocking them. Feeling the weight of them falling into blissful sleep. Feeling the lightness of calm after a storm of tears.

Showing love to a child is fun…

  • Bake their favourite cookies.
  • Play their favourite games.
  • Read their favourite book or watch their favourite movie over and over. And, over.
  • Knit or crochet a “damn it Grammy” hat in their favourite colour. (So called because of the many photos of wee ones crying while wearing said hats!)

“How much do I love you?”

“This much, Grammy”, as they spread their tiny arms as wide as possible, “and…MORE!”

Love comes freely and naturally with these wonderful souls. Love is easily taught and easily shared.

Sadly, so is hate.

As babes morph into toddlers and young children, we teach them to “be nice” and “play nice”. We ask them to put aside anger, to cooperate and share. We tell them about “good words” and “bad words”, letting them know that the latter are not acceptable in polite conversation.

But, how well do we live out what we preach? How well do we control our own hate and anger?

As our little ones get older we suddenly realize the need to censor our conversations, but it’s hard. Really hard. As adults, we need to share our anger and burdens with each other but often forget that little ears are listening. What are we teaching them? Do they see us genuinely struggling with a problem and trying to do what is right? Or, do they simply see us rehashing anger and hate?

What are older children learning as they observe the hate that fills the airwaves? How do we teach them to love when leaders spew hate-filled language and openly threaten opponents? How do we teach them respectful dialogue when bullies and haters fill social media sites?

I can’t change what is going on in the world, but I CAN try to change myself. I can BE the change I want to see. (Thank you, Gandhi!) I need to control and work towards letting go of the hurts and sadness that so easily overwhelm me. I need to erase the hate in my own life. If I cannot yet control the hate, then I need to control my words.

Loving our grand-children is easy. Teaching them to love by example is a great gift…even better than a “damn it Grammy” hat!