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home : columnists : columnists September 20, 2017

Bible in one hand, newspaper in the other

By Teri Ditslear
Joy in the Journey

The advice theologian Karl Barth gave to ministers of the Word, was to preach using the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Having an eye on current events, the state of our modern world, and the plight of our neighbor, while wrestling with what the Bible says about both love and hate is going to be the most effective method of reaching the ears and hearts of those who would hear. At Roots of Life, each Sunday morning, we spread the newspaper out on a table and ask for people to pray for our world. Using the newspaper as a tool for our prayer life is easy and efficient. From headlines of horror, around the world, and praying for our government officials, to giving thanks for the stories of people using their God given gifts for the betterment of our community, are two example of how we can use both the Bible and the newspaper.

Opening the Bible to Matthew 5 and the Beatitudes will show us quickly how to pray. This Sunday's Gospel lesson is from Matthew 15. It is the story of a Canaanite woman, who has a sick daughter, and asks Jesus to heal her. His response, is not nice. In fact, it is quite vulgar and really out of character from the nice Jesus we know and love. He basically calls this woman and her daughter dogs. What I love about this passage is that this is one of those times when Jesus in his humanness is taught, and he changes his mind and he acts accordingly. The woman responds to Jesus, even the dogs get crumbs from the masters table. Jesus, recovers his good sense, "Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly."

The headline news this week has been horrific, from the events in Charlottesville, to Barcelona, Spain. The violence begins with seeds planted of ideals of 'us vs them', which festers into hatred, anger and mistrust and then finally the words used to terrorize festers into violence, mob mentality blurs the vision of what is right and wrong. The kind of rhetoric we have heard and read from, the KKK, and white supremacist groups, the Nazi party and other hate groups, have fueled the fire of hatred. If Jesus would not have self corrected, he too, could have found himself indulging in "us vs. them" mentality. What Jesus said in First Century Palestine, to the Canaanite woman, was not acceptable to say to any other human being. The difference between Jesus and the modern day hate mongers seem to be that Jesus self corrected and then went on to heal the woman's daughter, because of her faith.

It is not easy to self correct. It is not easy to say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong." It is not easy to admit that racism exists and is prevalent (yes, even in our community). Being aware of our own racist tendencies is the first step in healing divisions, and bringing about real equity among all people. The divisiveness of the 'us and them' mentality plants seeds of hatred, suspicion and fear. I'm hoping that our community and country can get down to the business of planting seeds of justice, and reconciliation. This will be the beginning of being able to reap a harvest of love and peace.

Noblesville's Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com

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