The parable of the Good Samaritan is a compelling story to reflect on for Black History Month. The story, based on conflict between Jews and Samaritans, speaks to us about prejudice, stereotypes, and the power of love across ethnic lines. Reading this story this month, we might encourage one another to reach, like the good Samaritan, out to those who may disdain and slander us because of our ethnicity. When it comes to black history, who has played the role of priests, Levites, and the Good Samaritan? Who, after seeing people in dire need, has passed by on the other side?
The new Martin Scorcese film Silence (set at the end of the era of Jesuit missions in Japan in the mid-16th Century) is loaded with theological elements from various sects within and beyond the Christian traditions. Scorcese effectively and powerfully puts the viewer into the mind and heart of the Jesuit priests and the Japanese Christians, each of whom is asked to renounce their faith in Christ or suffer. Would Christianity today be able to survive the same persecution from several centuries ago?
People commonly find the beginning of the year as a great time to turn over a new leaf. The metaphorical slate is essentially wiped clean. While these commitments are outwardly beneficial, I would like for us to take a step back and become aware of our motivations for these resolutions. Do we perhaps make New Year’s resolutions with hopes to fill an internal void that we all inevitably feel?
Signs are helpful. They tell us where we are. They tell us where to turn. Have you ever made a wrong turn because there was no sign? Have you ever turned onto a road because of a sign but then wondered later if you made a wrong turn or missed a road sign somewhere along the way? Sometimes in life we make major decisions in complete confidence only to question those decisions down the road.
In the season of Advent, it is fitting to think on and celebrate the birth of Christ. God’s message is woven through the story of Christmas, even down to the details of Christ’s birth in a stable. The story of Christ’s humble and unassuming birth paints a masterful painting of God’s love for the outcast and underprivileged. The story of the manger is much more than a yearly Bible reading or focus of a play, it is a call to action for all of those who claim to be followers of Christ.
Recently, on November 25th, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary and long-standing political leader of Cuba, passed away. With such a political history, one that also included much persecution and pain for large groups of people, it should come as no surprise that there are people who are celebrating his death. However, as Christians, how are we supposed to react in times of death? Are we supposed to cheer on the death of those who are persecutors?
Human life is in danger due to its loss of love, respect, and affirmation. For life to flourish it must be valued, and cherished. What are the challenges facing humanity that threaten the sanctity of life? Furthermore, what should be humanity’s responses in order to consistently choose life over that which promotes death?
“I’m moving to Canada,” say many in response to the choices that they have had and the results they fear from the elections. Few mean it. Some leave the voting booth grumbling words similar to a friend of mine, “I voted today, but I don’t feel good about it.” This week, as the final ballots are cast, we engage an alternative way to look at political realities.