I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton, former slave ship owner turned Anglican Priest.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation.
1. The outbreak of the deadly fever caused by the Ebola Virus continues to dominate the International News. Even as the US and other Allied forces do battle with ISIS fighters in Northern Iraq. Just today yesterday, fear turned to panic as people stormed a clinic one of the slums in, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, apparently afraid that those being quarantined there could affect others.
This kind of fear could have devastating consequences as infected patients have been ‘let loose’ in densely populated areas where sanitary conveniences are at a premium, and in some cases non-existent.
There are other problems too as the kind of work load that those who have the responsibility to diagnose the disease was brought into sharp focus in a letter written from Liberia, and brought to my attention by a friend who works with the UN.
The highly respected Economist posted a very informative article on the seriousness of the disease and the consequences for the Africa. A very sobering article indeed.
2000 people infected thus far and over 1000 have died. These are troubling times indeed for the entire world, as ‘what next ‘ is real issue.
The spread of Ebola in west Africa is deeply troubling for the region and the world
Aug 16th 2014 | KENEMA, LAGOS AND NEW YORK | From the print edition
2. The outbreak of violence in Ferguson Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown, is a cause for deep concern in the USA. In a probing article posted in the world famous Newsweek magazine on Twitter, the theme was that ‘there are two Fergusons’. And the twain do not mix. A serious challenge to the legacy of racial harmony that #Ihaveadream Martin Luther King Jnr pursued and for which he died.
So the racial tensions are running high in Ferguson and not many people have a handle on the solution to the problem; which cannot be the increased militarization of the Police Force, nor the continued violence. Who will broker peace in this ‘war’? The answer is literally and figuratively ‘ blowing in the fires of racism and distrust of whites”. Is there a role for the church in all of this?
3. Meanwhile ‘back home on the ranch’, in Jamaica, the fires lit up by the death of young Mario Deane whilst in the custody of the state continue to rage. A madman and a deaf-mute have been charger with ‘beating him to death’, whilst some of the police have been interdicted. People are calling for the Prime Minister to issue a statement. The party has countered that the leader has been behind all the moves by members of the cabinet to ensure the protection of those in lockups and that people are not arrested by minor offenses. Tensions are rising, and press releases by The Church and other civic groups have done little to assuage public anger. How will we, as a nation, how will Mario’s parents ever escape from this nightmare where sudden death at the hands of the Police is a real and present danger to many young youths across the nations. In the same way black youths in the USA are similarly at risk…#theygunnedmedown.
THE WORD OF GOD
In all of this tension and at a place where many people are at their wit’s end, what did the Living God reveal through His Word and His inspired Word. It’s a question posed by a Pastor in the USA, and posted on Twitter which triggered a message to a few chosen friends and leaders in my country, entitled:
#gonetoosoon in violent and highly unnecessary deaths…while in the hands of the state, by the hands of gunmen, on the roads
THE MESSAGE – PART ONE
The writer of the blog in link above raises the question of whether or not there is a word from The Lord about Michael Brown’s case in Ferguson, Missouri in the USA. The same question could be asked in Jamaica this Sunday, ” Is there a Word from The Lord about Mario Deane”?
” I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing”.
The same question could be posed about the many who have been brutally killed by wicked gunmen…#theyturnedbacktokillher…….
Is there a word from The Lord about sudden and violent death in Jamaica…#wenolongervaluelife
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
PART TWO –
At the urging of The Spirit of God, this morning I went and read the verse which triggered the question last night, ” Is there a word from The Lord”? – Jeremiah 37:17
The chapter begins with the sobering words: “…..Neither he nor his attendants nor the people paid any attention to the words The Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet” verse 2.
In fact if you go back and read the background to this chapter, the context is that, Jeremiah had received a word from The Lord about ” Israel, Judah, and all the other nations….”. With the hope that ‘ perhaps when the people of Judah heard about every disaster that The Lord planned to inflict on them each, each one would turn from their wicked ways and God would forgive them”.
But as throughout history, we can guess what happened. The King and his courtiers burned the scroll that was presented to them! So The Lord sent another word to Jeremiah, telling him to write another Word about the impending disaster, because the King refused to listen.
Further reading then documents the terrible ‘ Holocaust’ like disasters which descended upon the people of Israel; all because ‘ They provoked me to anger”, by disobedience… ‘worshiping gods that neither they nor you nor your fathers every knew’.
Finally at the end of Jeremiah, and the beginning of Lamentations, these words struck a chord in my heart:
” How deserted lies the city,
once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Lamentations 1:1-2. NIV
If this sounds to you like Jamaica, and probably a prophetic word about other places which will reap their ‘reward’ in due course, no doubt we have come to this state of ‘bitterness in our soul’, all because we, ‘read our newspapers to see what men are doing, and not the Bible which teaches us what we ought to do’. And even worse, ‘ long for Mutty Perkins’, as I heard on Cliff Hughes’ program last night. A metaphor for how we have elevated our journalists to heights where they do not belong, and hopefully most do not desire to be, in the hearts of their listeners.
Which then brings me back to a Word about which I shared elsewhere this week. The Gospel reading in the worldwide Anglican Church for tomorrow! Matthew 15:21-28. A Word about a modern day Palestinian woman, a woman of Canaan ( whose land was ‘occupied’, given to Israel by God). Who then was clearly ‘ not a member of the Anglican or any other church’. But she had a problem. A demon possessed daughter! And for which she could find no cure. In the same way Jamaica has a problem, people #gone too soon, violently and suddenly; on account of wickedness and evil – at the hands of, and in the custody of the state, by the hands of gunmen, and by carelessness on our roads.
So she ‘heard’ about this stranger; this man who could cure her daughter. Not cure her of her many many sins! Just her daughter. So she appealed for help. Jesus appeared unsympathetic and uncaring. But she persevered! Why? Because she was at her wit’s end, and had nowhere else to go. And because she trusted He, who was, ‘The Living God’, her demon possessed daughter was healed.
The question is therefore in tis context, ” is Jamaica at her wit’s end, or is there someone else, something else, some other remedy, some other balm in Gilead, for which our anxious hearts are waiting”? Is the answer to be found in the teaching of Garvey, as I heard someone express yesterday on Dionne Jackson Miller’s program? Is the solution, ‘strong and decisive leadership by Portia and her ministers? In the sense that, as Cliff Hughes was advocating last night with his very limited ‘wisdom’, that what ‘ails the mastiff bitch’, that which happened in the lock up with Mario Deane, is a governance problem?
That is not my understanding. Not the Word that I heard! And apparently not the word that young Damion Crawford heard either; as reported in the newspapers this morning.
No, the problem is that we, as a nation and as mankind, are guilty of only reading our newspapers to see what men are doing, and what men can do, and what men have done. And not reading, and obeying the Word, about what men ought to do. And so, in the words of the prophet Hosea, ” ..bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of all of this, the land mourns……..my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Chapter 4. A prophetic word which is validated by the Word from Lamentations.
So will we, whether believers or non believers, who are collectively, ‘at our wit’s end’, as a nation, ‘give to Cesar what is his, and give to The Lord what is due to Him”. In the sense that yes, we call for better governance, yes we pledge to be better and more caring citizens using all our energies and intellect to fashion a new society. But, let us at the same time, ” trust in The Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding”. For in some matters, only prayer can help. A deep longing for God to rule in the hearts of men and women in this country, who are ‘demon possessed’ and determined to rob, rape, beat and kill with impunity.
I pray God that like the troubled woman from Canaan, we who have heard about Jesus, who have His Word presented to us, day after day by the church, the body of Christ, with all its ‘many many faults, may turn to Him and ask for mercy. For our beloved Jamaica, and for the ‘entire human race’. Wherever there is pain and injustice and people who are # gonetoosoon from sudden and premature death.
FINAL COMMENT – The story in the Economist is the most sobering one I have read all week. So far we have been able to deal with the viruses which have appeared almost out of nowhere. So far!
But who knows when, even worse than Ebola will strike. People once thought that having contracted HIV was like ‘the end of the world’. How things have changed, and the world has gotten ‘comfortable’ with this now chronic illness.
But sudden and violent death continues to stalk the land. In Syria, in Norther Iraq, in Ferguson Missouri, in Montego-Bay Jamaica. And Ebola may yet prove to be much more devastating than we expect.
People are therefore in some cases at their wit’s end, in respect of long lasting solutions for the problems of the world. This is where a renewed church comes to the fore, as it should have been in the first place. Jesus still awaits people who trust in the Living God, in the same way the Canaanite woman did, to place their faith in the Only One who can makes things right Forever! And he is Passing by this moment, His gifts to supply. We entreat you then , on Christ’s behalf, to reach out and touch Him, as He passes by. It’s never too to cry out to Him:
” Pass me not, O gentle savior,
Hear my humble cry;
while on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by.