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Crisis, Community, and Conflict

Lately, I've been thinking alot about the divisions we see all around us. It’s not just politics. We are divided about masks, about protests, about imigration, about racism, about…. Well, pretty much everything. I think we often agree more than we realize, but we are just looking at things from a different perspective.

In the past, major disasters like 9-11, hurricane Katrina, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Challenger disaster, and even President Kenedy’s assasination, have drawn us closer together. (Think about that last one - we came together around the death of a politician!) When things get tough, we come together as a people to support each other and we usually turn to our faith for courage and strength.

Today we are in the midst of a world wide pandemic, yet instead of drawing us together this crisis is drawing us apart. Why? Some would argue it is because of poor leadership, others would say the pandemic isn’t really a crisis. Still others would argue its our news media creating the division. Truth is, there is always more than one version of the story. History, and current news, are always told from the perspective of the reporter. No matter how much a reporter or historian tries to tell the story without bias, there is always some bias they aren’t even aware of themselves.

One great Biblical example of bias is the anointing of David as King (1 Samuel 16). God sends Samuel to Jesse’s house and Jesse lines up all his sons, except David. Both Samuel and Jesse expect one of the oldest boys to be anointed King, but clearly God had another plan. David, the youngest, is out in the fields with the sheep because of an age bias, or assumption. Yet he is the one God chooses to become King. The story, of course, is told from Samuel’s perspective, but I wonder how David would tell the story himself? Or maybe one of the older boys? Would the story be the same?

We are narrators who tell our stories - and the same story can be told many different ways by many different people. In a similar way, each Gospel tells Jesus’ story differently. Yet, they all convey the same love and grace. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all convey that love and grace in our lives and conversations today? I believe we can - if we stop thinking about ourselves and think about others. Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself.” We are all in this pandemic thing together. It’s not political. We are all suffering and struggling. We are all lonely. We all hate masks. We all hate not singing in church. BUT if we are all in the same situation, we can all be united behind the same goals. Reach out to people you haven’t seen. Respect the needs of others. Keep yourself healthy. And get through the challenges together. We are not alone! Thanks be to God!

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