January 12, 2011

Cheering Scripture

Source: KVOA.com
I can tell from the comments of my high school classmates on Facebook that I'm not the only one who was a little surprised by the pep rally tone of the memorial service in Tucson. Maybe time colors our memories, but if I remember correctly, the memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing was pretty somber although - again, if my memory serves - I think after the service the attendees launched into an impromptu chorus of Oklahoma as they were exiting.

It seems that after days of mourning as a community, people have a desperate need to latch onto anything positive. I can understand that. Grief is exhausting. It saps our energy and feels as though the sun will never shine again. It makes us want to hide.

So after my initial surprise at the tone of the service, which after all, was held in a sports arena at the University of Arizona, I decided maybe cheering at a memorial service isn't such a bad thing. And when Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano walked away from the podium to cheers following her reading of Isaiah 40, I smiled because it reminded me of something that Deron, my pastor, often chides us for.

You may have heard that Oklahomans love football. (Well, most Oklahomans seem to. The fascination with football totally escapes me.)  Sooner fans get excited about OU and Cowboy fans get excited about OSU and it seems that most Oklahomans have a strong preference for one over the other. Deron can make a positive comment about one of the teams and the sanctuary will erupt into cheers that even manage to drown out the (good-natured?) boos of the opposing fans.

Then Deron will point out that we never show that kind of unbridled enthusiasm for scripture or for worship. We never give God the kind of glory that we give our favorite teams. We talk a lot about giving God glory. We sing about it..."Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing!" But the sad truth is, we don't cheer for God.

I don't have any illusions about who the crowd in Tucson was cheering for. Some may indeed have been cheering for the words she read, but I suspect most were excited to see their former Governor and current Cabinet Secretary back for the service and more than that, they were caught up in the pep rally atmosphere.

But perhaps the rest of us can learn something. We should shout to the mountaintops when we hear scripture. We should always be thrilled for the opportunity to shout to the Lord with passion, giving him all the glory.

Until next time,

Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

January 10, 2011

A Perfect Storm

The only thing that surprised me about the tragic event in Tucson this past weekend was that it didn't happen sooner. My earliest memory of an historic event is the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was 4-years-old at the time. Despite the fact no president has died in office since 1963, it was only about 10 years ago that I realized I no longer assumed that every President of the United States would die at the hands of an assassin.

Over an 18-year-period,  we had the assassination of JFK, then Martin Luther King, then Bobby Kennedy, then the attempt on the life of George Wallace, two attempts on the life of President Ford and one attempt on President Reagan, which likely would have succeeded had he not been so close to a hospital.. It seemed as though the violence would never end, but it did...for awhile.

Like many Americans, I have been troubled by the political rhetoric of the past few years. Much of it seems designed to appeal specifically to people who might not be playing with a full deck. And yes, it comes from both sides of the political spectrum.

Google Images
With 435 Congressional districts, it's impossible to be familiar with all of the U.S. Representatives, but I'm sorry I had never noticed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before tragedy struck. It seems she is truly special, and I don't think it's just because of her injuries that her colleagues are being so generous with praise for her. In the few clips I've seen of her over the past few days, it's apparent that she is articulate, intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful.