With all the events in the news these past weeks, news that seems unrelenting in its dark constancy, news of brutal persecution perpetrated on the innocent in Iraq and Syria under the black flag of ISIS/ISIL, the murder of clergy, an Ebola epidemic, the shooting of Michael Brown and others in St. Louis, the suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams, with all such news I find myself tired of sin and its effects.
Tired of the seeming power of the dark forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Of suffering and death as their common tools of attack and destruction.
But even as this has made me weary and deeply sad this week, it has also reminded me that this is why the church exists. It is why we gather as believers in the good news of the kingdom of God, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of the Most High King, whose name is Jesus.
Yes, to remind ourselves of why the world is the way it is.
But also to hear from God, and what he he has to say about it all.
It reminds me of something I read from a friend recently:
How would the mindset of modern day worshipers be shaped if on their way into the worship services they had to pass between rows of headstones, as was the case in certain times and places where the church cemetery was just outside the church door?
Of all places, the church ought to be - has to be - the place where we are not afraid to talk about such hard things. Such fearful things. A place where we pray, grieve, weep, sing, and rejoice together in this beautiful mess. We have to be careful as worshipers and pastors and worship leaders, for it might not be that we always leave our gatherings with a new bounce in our step, feeling triumphalistic and expressing it all through fist-pumps and high-fives.
But it ought to be that we leave, standing together -
together with our local brothers and sisters,
together with our brothers and sisters around the globe,
together with our brothers and sisters throughout the history of the church, all the way back to the first century (see the story of Luke in the book of Acts) -
filled with hope, confident in who God is and what he is doing, ready to proclaim the good news with a broken-hearted boldness.
Death be not proud. You do not have the final word.