Good News… Please
The church of Christ is in the business of proclaiming good news, in word and deed. This is our reason for being. Somehow, we believe that the good news concerning Jesus of Nazareth has changed, continues to change, and will one day finally change things in our lives and in our world. Good news changes things.
This is what we say.
And yet there are moments when it all seems so unbelievable. Tragedy strikes, and we are confronted once again with the overwhelming pain that life can produce. We live and speak and commend this good news in a world where it often seems like bad news is lurking around every corner, waiting to devour. Sometimes the bad news can be fended off for a time, or accommodated within our narratives of goodness and hope. Other times, it threatens to overwhelm and engulf and destroy. The bad news is just too bad.
The crushing pain of the loss of a child, for example. This is what some close to us are facing this week, and my heart breaks for them. We need words, and yet there are no words for this. Just pain.
And so what good is this good news we proclaim? We claim that things like faith and hope, love and life are strong and true and sure, but they seem like such feeble resources in the face of the bracing winds of death and pain and despair—little flickering candles held up to a hurricane. “Love wins,” we hear, and we so desperately want this to be true, but death seems to be piling up a substantial lead, and the game often seems to be getting out of hand. Love has some work to do, if victory is coming.
So what are they, these words we cling to? Are they stories we tell ourselves to make the pain go away, or at least to help it subside for a time? Are they fantasies to protect us from the ugly, naked reality of a world where pain inevitably destroys and defeats? Are they nothing more than necessary fictions, to protect us from the truth as we stumble through the bewildering mixture of joy and sorrow, beauty and ugliness, life and shattering death that this world throws at us?
Or do these flickering candles, point to something true enough, beautiful enough, strong enough, good enough for all of our bad news? I believe that they do. But God, help my unbelief on days like today.
Kyrie, eleison. Lord, have mercy.