Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

Bad News Days

One thing is certain of late, the world was not ready for such an upheaval as the coronavirus brought. 

This is a disconnected, jumbled essay in which I am rambling through my own mind. I do not present it as a model upon which one can mount stability. Perhaps it might be a stack-pole of disconnected thought for all of us to rally. The more questions we ask, the better answers we will get—just be sure God’s invited in.

Generations of persons alive today have benchmarks around which they order their lives and history. Wars won, deaths of presidents, the loss of friends and family, foreign wars that couldn’t be won, the tragedy that devastated New York City, and so forth. Yet in pockets of cultures, civilizations, devastations such as Ebola, unrelenting forest fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and such have pressed hard on God’s children.

With time on my hands and the love of my wonderful roommate, I am making some observations I’d have had no idea we would be considering.

Gone are the days of Murrow, Cronkite, Thomas, Mudd, Hunt and Brinkley, and the little stagecoach which rambled on and off Richmond’s channel 6 morning and night. They were replaced by better voices, handsome faces, armies of editors and publication and production experts. News became entertainment. Talented information folks are learning to communicate without support of the armies that held sway in radio and television news. Not only are we sheltered in place, so are the people who are connecting us to our world outside.

From all this, I am impressed that new opportunities will arise which will astonish. Each epoch into which we’ve been thrown has always brought new languages, new processes, new inventions, new hope for a better world. Just look about at the many things existing in our homes which came about by space exploration.

As for a one-world civilization? We used to stomp our feet and demand that our part of this spinning orb was sacrosanct to us and needs therefore to be fiercely defended. Yet in a few short period of days, this awful pandemic has brought the world to a oneness of fear, sadness and supply need. We can’t digest what’s going on now. The weight of how many innocent persons are struggling, indeed loosing live. On a recent news update by our President, the number of deaths rose over 100 while I watched.

Many folks claim to be frustrated about not having public worship. Think on this: if all who complain about not getting to church, had in fact been in church, many houses of worship would be in building programs with smiles and prayers. Ah, there’s hope!

We are struggling and protesting because we feel so helpless of late. None of us like to be bossed around. Our many tentacled realms of government have given us orders we don’t like.  As for church and state issues, who would imagine that our president would tell us to stay home. Who’d ever thought that governors could, or would have the authority to tell us no public worship? Wars have been fought over such. Yet it is a good idea.

God is teaching us that we really are our brothers keepers. We have the power to stop an epidemic by isolating ourselves and caring for others as best we can, when, and where possible. 

The Reverend Bishop T. D. Jakes (author, and filmmaker, pastors The Potter’s House, a huge non-denominational American megachurch in Dallas, Texas), when questioned about this Easter, said, “The original Easter was attended by a small crowd.” Friends, we are going to survive this season of uncertainty with the proud hope of returning to our various houses of worship in dramatic resurgence of faith and stewardship.

Now, as to where is God in all this? Do we dare ask? How dependent upon him were we on January 1 of this year? How have the margins of what is acceptable when it comes to life, when it begins and when it should end? Public thought and personal practice invaded God’s plan to our detriment. Illness has opened jail cells which believers neglected.

God’s still in charge, and grieving for all his creation. Much has been said of what to do with all our forced confinement. Let me suggest it is a time in which we can all re-evaluate our faith. A first step is to use this time to put ourselves in his word. The Gospel of John is a good enough starting point. Read it twice through and pray ourselves into the message. Then tackle to read on anywhere else, perhaps the Old Testament, no matter; just get in there and harvest riches previously unknown.

The bad news days for all of us could be to ignore how important we all are to each other. And how much lives are being changed for the better.

I am missing my personal and my church family. And I hope to be a better pastor when reunited. Likewise, a better husband, friend, dad, granddad, too.

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