What’s Your Headline?
"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8, NRSV
I imagine that many of us are familiar with the old phrases: “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and “bad news sells.” I think it’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year full of bad news. And if we’re not careful, these headlines may eventually color the way we see ourselves, others and the world.
Yet, as Christians we have an opportunity to remind people that for every bad headline, there are countless stories of hope and grace. Philippians 4:8 reminds us to turn our thoughts and attention to these just, honorable and worthy stories that may never be told—at least not on the evening news. I recently came across a story shared online by a woman named Beverly Greer. It serves as a powerful reminder:
Sometimes I just want it to stop. Talk of COVID, protests, looting, brutality. I lose my way. I become convinced that this “new normal” is real life. But, then I meet an 87-year-old who talks of living through polio, diphtheria, Vietnam protests and yet is still enchanted with life. He seemed surprised when I said that 2020 must be especially challenging for him. “No”, he said slowly looking me straight in the eyes. “I learned a long time ago to not see the world through the printed headlines. I see the world through the people that surround me. I see the world with the realization that we love big. Therefore, I just choose to write my own headlines. “Husband loves wife today.” “Family drops everything to come to Grandma’s bedside.” He patted my hand. “Old man makes new friend.” His words collide with my worries, freeing them from the tether I had been holding tight. They float away. I am left with a renewed spirit. My headline now reads, “Woman overwhelmed by the spirit of kindness and the reminder that our capacity to love is never ending.”
(story credited as originally shared by Andy Stanley)
Today, may we remember that as followers of Jesus, we are “good news people” set free from the bondage of sin and death, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to re-write our own headlines in 2020 and in the years to come.
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, p. 229)