It’s a heavy time we live in. And this is a heavy blog. But we don’t get to ignore what we don’t want to know. Jesus walked in the muck and shadows of his world. We must do the same.
But what do we do with news like this? A year-old baby is shot in the head while sitting in his stroller in NYC and his 21-year old father (the probable target of the gang violence) ran up to his to his grandmother and fell on the ground screaming, “Grandma, my baby got shot!”
The Taliban in a section of Pakistan forbids vaccinations because it believes they are an attempt to sterilize its members. So polio is on the rise there. And not only there. The virus (the same strain that is found in Pakistan) is exploding in the sewers of Israel. The danger is that a disease that was declared dead in 1992 (only 220 some cases world-wide last year, many of those in Pakistan) is on the loose again. Where do we go with that?
Two million Syrians have fled their homes looking for safety in surrounding countries of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The refugee camps are full in some places and not allowed in others so desperate families are living in any building, decrepit as it may be, they can find. In addition four million Syrians are displaced in their own country The UN officials “in charge” of refugees are losing hope. Where do we go with that?
At 3:00 a.m. this morning, I went to a book of sermons by Barbara Brown Taylor (Home by Another Way). My bookmark was in a chapter that talked about all the ways Jesus offended people, specifically as reported in John 6: 60-69. Taylor describes how repulsive it was to the Jews to hear Jesus talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. And she goes on to say,
“Jesus simply would not let up on them. If they were going to follow him all the way, then they were going to have to give up their need to understand, agree, or approve of everything he said or did. They were going to have to believe him, even when what he said offended them. They were going to have to trust him, even when what he did went against everything they had been taught. You can almost hear their minds slam shut” (p. 178).
Not only did their minds shut, but the door shut behind many of his disciples who turned and left Jesus right then. According to Scripture, Jesus asked those who were left, “Do you also wish to go away?” And Peter (don’t you just love Peter?) says, “Lord, to whom can we go?” Barbara Brown Taylor says, “As confusing as Jesus is, Peter has glimpsed something in him that he cannot turn away from. He has glimpsed God . . . . He will not go away from the life he has been led to, even if it is miles from the life he thought he wanted.”
So that’s where we go with the distasteful, disgusting, disheartening news that fills BBC World Service radio. With Peter. To Jesus. We aren’t allowed our escape routes, which may be as simple as turning off the radio or changing the channel. We aren’t allowed to say this is too hard, too complicated, too awful. We go to Jesus. We continue walking in the life we have been led to even though it may be miles from the life we prefer. And we find a way to make that life better.