My usual habit on a Saturday morning is to read my way through the newspapers. Most commonly, I find at least one or two articles that wrap me around the axle of outrage or intrigue. I used to scavenge for the inspiring human interest stories, but they are fewer and fewer these days. I’ve long since abandoned the notion that the newspaper would be a happy read.
Today was no different. The front page of the Los Angeles Times has a story about Libya, the earthquake devastation in New Zealand, President Obama’s Middle East Policy reform , human rights violations in China (this time not about the governments, but about the people oppressing one another), California’s deficit, a fallen fireman, and of course, the front page wouldn’t be complete without one more unsavory comment about Charlie Sheen. Profound despair in every story.
And I ask myself, “Who are we?” Specifically, who is the church? Twenty-two pages of stories chronicling despair, pain, unrest, and abuse and the church speaks not a word. The only resemblance to religious hope is found on the last page, “Food Fighter”–an interview with Jamie Oliver and his passion for “converting skeptics and unbelievers” to embracing healthy foods in schools and homes.
But what good does it do to feed the body if the soul dies a little each day?
The headlines are depressing. Do we care? Do we have hope to offer? Where is the church? How come she isn’t doing anything newsworthy? The world may be “smaller,” but I fear the church is more distant now then ever from the cries of humanity. Just this last week, two believers were martyred by Somalia pirates and yet very little was said. Who stood up to say they would take their place in being carriers of hope? Could it be that we have so much information that stories like these just get reduced to paper and ink? Or maybe it’s because we daily throw out the paper and we forget that the stories it contains are not disposable–the lives it represents will continue on in their pain even when they cease to be “newsworthy.”
The days are short. I pray we don’t get distracted with the plans for Oscar parties and miss the hurting, helpless, and hopeless who need our concern and prayers. I remember as a child asking my daddy why he read the paper everyday, “It always gives you something to pray about.” Church, are we praying? Are we willing to become part of the answers to those prayers? It was always the idea that the world should need the church; need her for times like the ones in which we currently find ourselves.
So who are we? Do we care? If so, where are we?