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Rye Congregational Church

Celebrating God’s Love ~ In the Heart of Rye Since 1726

Promoting Christian growth and fellowship in a politics-free zone.

Biblical • Traditional • Independent

Sunday Services at 10 a.m.

Conservative Non-political

Click here for a copy of the Sunday service bulletins.

 

Rev. Lavoie

          Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors … for if you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  (Matthew 6:12, 14)    

          Increasingly as the years have gone by, I have become a news junkie. I watch the news, read the news, and listen to the news – a lot. The habit started with me when I was about 10 years old and Walter Cronkite was reporting on the Vietnam War, and Martin Luther King. Then came Watergate, Iran Contra, the Berlin Wall, Iran-Iraq War, Afghanistan and some terrible things mixed in there as well, especially things like 9/11. All things great and small: some good, some bad, and some quite terrible.

   Yesterday, we caught a little break in the national news: something about a moose rescue in a backyard swimming pool in, of all places, Bedford, New Hampshire. I hope whenever Bedford is mentioned in the news, it will always be about something fun like that. I hope.

     It has occurred to me over the years that the constant exposure to bad news might not be good for me, but I really don’t think so, as long as there is much else positive going on in my life and I don’t lose sight of that. I pray that I never will – I have so much to be thankful for! I have been given a very blessed life filled with wonderful memories of family and community, and all of it filled with love and joy and peace. I am thankful for it every day. I thank God for it. I have always felt that “thankful” should be connected to objects, grammatically speaking, as in “thankful for …” and “thankful to …”. Some of that second part seems missing from the modern world I observe and that, it seems to me, is a form of self-imposed poverty, in the midst of unprecedented prosperity. I know people like to complain about things, but I do think we have a wonderful life nowadays, in spite of difficult problems that still need to be addressed.

     As I listen to the news headlines from day to day it also occurs to me that there are several ways I myself could make the front pages of the national newspapers, or a segment on the evening national news broadcasts but, alas, all for things I would never do, things too terrible even to imagine. I have tried to come up with something good I might be able to do that would make the headlines, but so far I have come empty. Nothing, nada, zilch. It seems that I share in a universal human frailty: My potential for doing evil is greater than my capacity for doing good. All the more reason, I think, to pray for the strength and guidance to live the best life possible, filled with love and compassion for others, and a prevailing sense of gratitude to God.

     Every now and then, however, one of us surprises everybody by doing something wonderfully good that makes the national news. Such a thing happened this week. The nation’s attention was focused on a murder trial in Texas – a case where, reportedly, a distracted police officer (cell phone business, I heard) entered the wrong apartment a floor below or above her own in the building and, thinking she had entered her own home, was surprised and frightened to find another person there and, convinced he was an intruder (who had re-decorated her apartment??) and fearing for her own safety, pulled out her service weapon and fatally shot him.

   As I heard tell of this bizarre incident, I wondered how anything like this could ever happen, but this cell phone thing has people walking down the street like zombies right into telephone poles and stepping out into open traffic. Only last week I while I was stopped for a school bus here on Washington Road, I watched two kids come down out of the bus and cross the street to their own driveway. Both had cell phones in their hands. One of them was walking head down as she bumped into the mailbox at the end of the driveway.  It’s a new world … heads up, kids.

     The police officer was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Then, the victim’s family members were permitted an opportunity to make a statement to the convicted woman sitting in the defendant’s chair. The victim’s brother, a handsome and well-dressed high school student, took to the witness stand and proceeded to look her in the eye and tell her that he did not hate her or wish her any harm. He told her that he loved her as a human being, and that he wished only the best for her in her life. He told her that it was not even his desire that she go to prison. He repeated these sentiments and then told her that he hoped she would find the meaning in life that he had found in Christ and then, shockingly, he asked the judge if it would be possible to get up and give her a hug … please?

   After a brief moment of hesitation, the judge gave him permission and the young man and the convicted woman got up from their seats and met in front of the judge’s bench and hugged each other in a manner rarely seen except in airports between long-separated family members and returning servicemen. The judge’s eyes filled with tears at a sight of it, so rare in earthly courtrooms, and then she joined in hugging the convict, whispering a prayer of blessing in her ear, and then gave her a Bible which I assume was the same one used to swear-in all the witnesses at the trial. If they have video recorders in Heaven, this tape is being played over and over for the angels’ joy and Jesus weeps once again, this time with tears of joy and satisfaction. It all sounds like an impossibly wonderful story, but it’s true, like everything else about Jesus.

Love and truth meet together; justice and peace kiss each other.  (Psalm 85:9-10)

In God’s Love,

Ron Lavoie
(The Preacher in the Rye)
(PreacherInTheRye@ryecc.com)