Midweek Musings

"Good News”


      There was a man who ran a convenience store near where I pastored my first parish. I’d go in a few times every week to buy a soda or fill up my gas tank. The merchant knew me from the neighborhood; he wasn’t a member of my church but we met when I moved into his community. After introducing myself as local clergy he began greeting me the same way every time I went into his store.

           “What’s the good news, Preacher?” he would ask and I would reply in some witty manner, spouting off some report about the fine weather heading our way or the recent victory of a local sports team, the kindnesses of strangers, the hope for our youth. I always made sure I had something that would make him smile in agreement, something to say that could be counted as good news.

           Some weeks I struggled. Once there was a traffic accident right in front of his store, a woman was killed. There were national tragedies, a teenager in the community committed suicide. Lots of things happened while I was there, lots of bad things, terrible things; but even though we both knew what was foremost on our minds, what everybody else was talking about, what hard sorrow our families and friends were facing, he asked me the same question and I made sure to have some answer. It just became the way we said hello.

           I thought about this man as I sat down to write this musing. It’s been more than thirty years since I used to see him, more than twenty since he died; but his question still speaks to me, makes me struggle. There’s the aftermath of a terrible hurricane and a war raging in Ukraine. There are major issues of social justice, mental health concerns, always more suicides. There is racial unrest and more mass shootings. And still, there is this question put to people of faith, the question raised by people needing something that will unite and not divide, something that is hopeful and encouraging and true.

           So, this is what I would say to the old man who ran a convenience store in the late eighties and this is what I will say to you. Love is stronger than hatred. Goodness can overcome evil. We are more alike than we are different and we can all sit down together to make what is wrong right. We may not have the choice of what suffering we face. We do, however, always have the choice of what we do with it, whether we choose life or death, violence or peace, transforming and overcoming that which is unjust or letting the injustice take over our lives. Sometimes it seems like we will never find anything good to take away from something so bad but the truth is that we have before and we will again. We can hope because we have history. There is always good news; we may just have to look a little harder to find it.



You are the light of the world.