Bad times not unique
Watch any morning news program and you can observe that we live in amazing times. We live in a time of unsurpassed prosperity in our nation. We live in a time of unmatched technology. We live in a time of unequaled communication.
Yet, we also live in a time of incredible turmoil and strife.
Turmoil and strife are not new to our nation. The reason these are amazing times is because we live in an era when the institutions of justice, government, religious traditionalism, and international diplomacy seem to be crumbling around us. The breakdown of the fabric of our country can leave us shaken.
Look for instance, at the recent battle between the between the Republican and Democratic parties over health care. While the debate was necessary, and a rich part of our country's tradition, the aftermath can leave us disgusted, as one group accuses the other of racial slurs, and the other group accuses the first of unpatriotic behavior.
We can look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our men and woman continue to struggle against the terrorist activities of Islamic extremist in order to win freedom for the people of those countries.
We can look at our judicial system, an upside down system that calls for the father of a slain hero, to pay the court costs for the protestors who disrupted his son's funeral.
We can look at our religious institutions, where battles over the acceptance of homosexual clergy rage in the backdrop of case after case of sexual misconduct and abuse.
We can look at the desperation of the middle class, as unemployment continues to grow, houses get foreclosed, and people make difficult choices about how to survive in our land of riches.
All around us seem to be difficulty and discord.
We certainly do live in amazing times; nevertheless, we do not live in unique times.
In the days of Jesus, the same problems existed. The Israelites faced war and rebellion, genocide of their own people, famine in the country, power struggles among politicians and religious leadership, an unfair trial system, and desperation of the people who longed to be free. The Gospels give us an accurate picture of these troubles and turmoil.
Still, despite man's propensity toward selfish and destructive behavior, on Good Friday, God reached out through all time in order to reconcile a wrong conceived in the Garden of Eden and to bring peace to all men. John 3:16 tells us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life."
On this day - the day we remember Jesus' crucifixion - we come to realize that at one moment, the death of the world's Christ, atonement was won. Amidst the death and destruction at the cross that day, harmony for humankind was achieved.
Jesus once said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). We live in amazing and frightening times; however, when we focus on our Lord, and the peace only He brings, we can look at the troubles surrounding us and know we shall overcome someday.
Pastor Kenneth Ogden
People's EC Church, Lehighton