Archive for August, 2013

August 1, 2013

Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men (August)

If you came to church this coming Sunday and found us singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” your first reaction might be to check the calendar.  Christmas songs in August?!  That doesn’t quite fit.  Perhaps one could argue in similar fashion that I should not choose such a Christmas-themed title for my August newsletter article, referencing the chorus of angels who appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14).  But in wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, I cannot think of anything that this country needs more than the peace and good will that is comes when Christ is present.

The family and friends of Trayvon Martin called it murder.  George Zimmerman supporters called it self-defense.  Six jurors, enduring emotional and physical stress, made their decision.  And immediately every American citizen weighed in as a proxy juror, levying their own judgments, choosing a side and arguing their case before other fellow proxy jurors.  And the nation is torn in two.

What is the Christian response when we experience such a tragedy as a young boy dying and a man being placed on trial for his death?  Does Christ call us to take a side?  Are we to support the alleged actions of one and condemn the alleged actions of the other?  Are we to make judgments for and against, chastising our friends who do not see the situation we see it?

Perhaps there is a time and place to make judgments.  Though we must remember as Christians that in the same measure we make judgments, God will judge us with equal measure (Matthew 7:1-2).  But it does not seem to me that what is the knee-jerk reaction of most Americans to judge should be the Christian’s first response.  If we are to hear Amos speaking to us today, as we have been on Sunday mornings, our first response to these events is repentance.

As in Isaiah six, when Isaiah confessed himself as sinful, living among sinful people, we must recognize that we are complicit in this tragedy by the very fact that we live together as a people.  Scripture describes us as individuals, but it also considers us as people groups, nations, communities with shared futures.  Our actions affect others.

Amos calls out Israelites who stand an arm’s length away from tragedies in their nation and make judgments about them, not realizing that they are judging themselves.  In chapter six, Amos points out the sins of complacency and pride, sins that we inevitably will see within us if we do not realize our complicity and come in an attitude of repentance.

Our first response to this tragedy is repentance, echoing the words of Isaiah that we indeed are sinful, living among a sinful people.  Repentance then allows us to take the initial steps of reconciliation, or with the words of the angels who heralded Christ’s coming, we can proclaim peace on earth and good will towards men.

Repentance allows us to proclaim and live into a world where George Zimmerman does not need to follow Trayvon Martin into the night, a world where these two men do not need to find themselves locked in a deadly assault, a world where there is peace and good will between the Martin and Zimmerman families.  To all Christians, let us repent from our complacency and pride, and let us with our Lord proclaim peace on earth, good will towards men.

In Christ,

Pastor Rich