Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

Equality, divinely inspired

December 18, 2011

About 27 centuries ago, a prophet named Isaiah lived in the Jewish home-city, Jerusalem. He spoke presciently to his  countrymen about the dire condition and future direction of their waning theocracy. Among the many figurative utterances that Isaiah spoke to his people during those turbulent times was this cataclysmic declaration:

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

Two and a half millenia later, the composer George Frideric Handel appropriated this mountainous prophecy for the the introductory elements of his classic musical oratorio, The Messiah.

In any venue where the piece is performed, Handel’s masterpiece of Messianic fervor begins with a dynamic, stringed baroque overture. Then, in clear, declarative recitative, the bold tenor voice announces that Jerusalem’s warfare is done, divine absolution is on the way, and now is the time to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Since a highway requires some earth-moving preparatory work, the tenor’s exposition continues with Isaiah’s earth-shaking analogy that I mentioned above:

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

But there is much more going on here in the scriptural proclamation than a proposal for highway construction. Isaiah was enunciating a foundational principle of Jewish identity, and later Christian hope: Justice. And not just any old legal notion of justice, but a divinely-appointed equality among God’s people that is achieved when their societal field is providentially leveled and everyone has opportunity to live bountifully.

Now, what I’m wondering is: Will this God-sanctioned hope for justice on earth be accomplished through the Almighty’s soverign mandate upon his people,  or do we, as God’s people (if you count yourself among that group as I do) need to get busy and make the righteous vision happen?

If Isaiah’s echoing, metaphorical call to level the playing field resonates in your soul– if you can glean from his prophetic vision a possibility that someday the lowly will be raised up, and the high and mighty humbled–if you can catch a glimpse of a coming kingdom in which  mercy and grace obliterates oppression and injustice–then you may someday be singing that Hallelujah chorus with Isaiah and Handel in the Messiah’s  grand finale.

I Hope to see you there.

Uganda has come a long way since Idi Amin.

October 5, 2011

The nation of Uganda has come a long way on the path to civilization since the dark days of Idi Amin’s regime. Although that dictator had attempted, back in the ’70s, to impose his blood-shedding will upon his fellow Ugandans, his murderous manipulations were foiled by the neighboring Tanzanians. They ran Idi and his gang of thugs out of Africa when he tried to export his cruel program across their border in 1979. Thank God they put a stop to his campaigns of killing.

This is the first thing I think about when Uganda is mentioned, because I’m a sixtyish baby-boomer who has kept, through the years, an eye on world news, and I remember this about Uganda: the murderous dictator, Idi Amin, who had been assisted by the Libya dictator, Qadhafi, and how he killed hundreds of thousands of his people just for the sake of…for the sake of …whatever it is that tyrants are trying to do when they set their killing machines into motion.

But these days, Uganda is, thank God, a very different place. Just a month or two ago, my daughter Kim visited that nation and its capital city, Kampala. She was working there–assisting in, and reporting on, the Operation Christmas Child gift distribution. Kim, trained at UNC School of Journalism, was able to utilize some of her documentary skills, as you will see from these photos, which are accompanied by her report upon the Samaritan’s Purse work there.

Yes, Kim’s facebook update about this situation in a formerly war-torn Uganda brings good news. And I received that news with a kind of deja vu, because it reminded me of when my other journalist daughter, Katie, had sent similarly upbeat reports from Vietnam a few years ago. Katie and her team of world-tromping Christian companions had been welcomed with open arms, in that country of Vietnam, which had been torn to bloody hell during the civil war of the ’60s and ’70s in which we had a dismal role.

Now these days…well, we live in dark days–hard times–in which the ominous clouds of depression and unrest seem to grow heavier every day upon our lowering prospects for peace and prosperity. But somewhere in the world today, children are joyful because the love of Christ is being extended to them. Uganda is such a place (who’d have thought it?), thanks to the persistently beneficial work of Samaraitan’s Purse, and other Christian outfits who reach out to underpriveleged folks everywhere.

I’m so happy that my Kim is an integral link in that worldwide network of mercy and provision. God bless ’em.

Glass half-Full