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home : columnists : joy in the journey January 16, 2018

Can anything good come from this?

By Teri Ditslear
Joy in the Journey

Seriously folks, I cannot make this stuff up. Preachers who preach the gospel and who follow the lectionary (scheduled, way in advance, scripture selections across denominational lines) are about to get in trouble, they (we) are going to be walking that precarious and tension filled line of (shock and horror) politics and religion.

I wish there was a way for me to insert the little emoji with the yellow and blue face, hands on cheek and bug-eyed right here.

Preachers are called to teach and preach, share the Good News no matter how difficult, how politically charged, and no matter if it seems like it might not be "good" for everyone. Last year, at about this time, I frustrated some people by preaching the Beatitudes, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. I was saddened and disheartened that some people took offense. Wait a minute, let me self-correct; I was in some ways happy, that people were listening, and then reflecting on their lives and the lives of our leaders.

Drum roll please! The prescribed gospel this week is from John 1:43-51. Here is an excerpt:

"We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Can anything good come out of Nazareth; a dirty, run down impoverished little town, where there are no hospitals, art galleries, Smoothie Kings, or even a good library? A place where little kids run around barefoot in threadbare clothing, no body gets their dogs vaccinated, let alone their children. A place where the authorities show up just in time for census taking and tax collecting, otherwise they are left to their own defenses. You mean that little backwater town? That 'poo- hole', Nazareth?

Wait a minute! This is a trick question isn't it?! It seems to me, the savior of the world, Jesus the Christ, is from Nazareth.

Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, Luke 24:18-19

So the question of the week is, 'What good can come from' . . . Haiti? from El Salvador? from Africa? Seriously?

Coincidently, Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Can anything good come from the Deep South? Can anything good come from Atlanta Georgia?

On this day we commemorate Dr. King's great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America. . . .

The King Holiday celebrates Dr. King's global vision of the world house, a world whose people and nations had triumphed over poverty, racism, war and violence. The holiday celebrates his vision of ecumenical solidarity, his insistence that all faiths had something meaningful to contribute to building the beloved community.

Coretta Scott King, The King Center

I am still working on my sermon for Sunday, but this article is my jumping off point. We must as a nation grow our hearts to embody the vision, not just wish, of Jesus especially, (check out the "Sermon on the Mount," Matthew 5) also continue to be aware and acknowledge that God has made ALL of us in God's image. What GOOD can come out of any of us? We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters of all nations to bring about peace, to witness to the continued oppression of people who are considered 'less than.' See you on Sunday, for the rest of the story.

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

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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