Digging for Hope

The Gospel reading for this week is one that wrestles with tragedy in an honest way that few passages do.  The problem of evil, called "theodicy" in theological circles, wonders out loud how we can trust in a graceful, benevolent God...or even a God at all...when evil is real, and demonstrable, and unmistakably present.

Oh, if you want to read the text, go here:  Luke 13:1-9.

Lots of ink has been spilled on this topic.  From Rabbi Harold Kuschner's "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People," to C.S. Lewis's "The Problem of Pain," to the Biblical books of Job and Ecclesiastes, authors, poets, philosophers, and theologians have all wrestled with evil, trying to eek out a blessing amidst the curses like Jacob wrestling with the angel at Jabbok.

Humans are mammals who want to make meaning.  But in the Gospel lesson today, Jesus actually turns the meaning-making conversation around a bit.

Some people come to Jesus bringing this gruesome story of the political powers killing some people, and then mingling their blood with the pagan sacrifices they were offering, apparently compounding insult upon injury.  They not only took their life, they further shamed them by using their blood in sacrificial ways that would have been blasphemous. To me that sounds like a socio-political commentary on how the powerful in the world not only prey on the bodies, but also on the very spirits, of those they seek to dominate.

But when this kind of violence occurs in the world, we always want to know why, and we'd like to believe that the dead somehow deserved it, or at least did something wrong.  We'd like to believe that because it gives us some mental insulation against the stark truth: sometimes tragedy just strikes, and it strikes no matter how good, or bad, you are.

Jesus affirms that truth, much to the chagrin of the hearers.  "You think those people were worse sinners?" he asks.  And to hammer the point home, he brings up a random act of violence, where a tower fell on some unsuspecting people.  "You think they did something to deserve that?" he asks.  You can see him shaking his head.

In an imperfect world, imperfect things happen: towers fall, cars crash, deranged people shoot up places because they have hate in their hearts, cells grow cancer.  We can try to make meaning out of it all we want, but sometimes the truth is just that bad things happen. Period.

And that's unsettling and unsatisfying, but it just is.   Read more.
This Sunday's Readings
Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8 
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

Way of the Shepherd All-Church Conversation - Sundays during Lent, 9:30-10:30 am, Fellowship Hall - Each week, we will focus on a new topic, walking this Lenten faith journey together. All adults are encouraged to join the conversation.

Final Sunday for Mail for Mnene Collection - Drop off your letters of love, prayers and support for our orphans in Mnene at the display table in the Narthex. Be sure to check out the new photos, maps and orphan updates while you are there!

Lenten Soup Suppers & Vespers Worship - Wednesdays through April 10 No need to cook dinner before you head to church on Wednesdays during Lent. Let's share a simple meal together starting at 5:30 pm (drop in any time), and then worship at 7:00 pm. Check out the complete Lent 2019 schedule.

No Need to Cook This Thursday, March 28! Join us at Moe's instead.  Have dinner at Moe's Southwest Grill (8111 Creedmoor Rd.) and support our preschool. Dine in or take out, 5:00 - 9:00 pm. Be sure to drop your receipt in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool box next to the register.

Spend an Evening with GSLC Coffeehouse - Friday, March 29, 7:00-8:30 pm - Coffeehouse offers live music, refreshments, and fellowship to adults of all abilities. Approximately 25 adult and youth helpers are needed to assist with set-up, serving, and clean-up - a great volunteer activity for families, too! Contact coffeehouse@gslchurch.org for more information.

Easter Egg Hunt is Coming Up! - Sunday, April 14, 9:30-10:30 am - All 2-year olds through 5th graders won't want to miss this chance to join friends for hunting Easter eggs, storytelling, preparing for Holy Week and a special snack! RSVP on Realm or to barb.newcomer@gslchurch.org by April 7.
Donate Candy for Easter Egg Hunt  - Individually wrapped candy with no nuts are greatly appreciated. Place in the bin in the Narthex.

Save the Date - 4th Annual Congregational Kicknic - Sunday, May 19, Williams Park (next to Lynn Road Elementary School) - Get ready to play (or cheer on) a game of kickball! Prior to the kickball games, we will worship together at the park at 10:00 am. A potluck meal will follow worship, with the kickball tournament beginning around 12:00 pm.

More information about upcoming events is available in this week's bulletin announcements.

The Spring 2019 edition of The Shepherd's Voice is now available online.

Health and Healing for Sara Arters; Shawna Lynch, cousin of Kris Sloman; Kathy Fultineer, friend of Kris Sloman; Christie Thomas, daughter of Sharon Gebel; Fran Franoly, friend of Vivarellis; and Rev. Kenneth Ruppar, friend of Kjellbergs.

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Wiseman Moyo and Nyaradzai Dube.

Wiseman is 21.  He was attending Form 5 classes at Masase boarding school but left school last year and is not at his homestead.  Mr. Mposi will work to locate him.  It is feared that he was enticed to go away from Mnene with the promise of panning for gold.  We continue to hold him in our prayers as we await updates about him from the Mnene Committee in Zim. His Mail For Mnene partners are the Whittecar class and a GSLC Christ care group.

Nyaradzai is 18.  She is doing well in her studies, taking Form 4 classes at Mnene boarding school.  She manages her disabilities with crutches and a wheel chair, provided through GSLC support.  Last month she gathered in Mnene with several of our other orphans to visit and receive supplies for this school term.  Her good friend Thelma helps assist her, accompanied her to this gathering.  The Mnene display table in the narthex has a recent photo of Nyaradzai and her friend Thelma.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is Abigail Beebe.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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