Readers of this blog may have been jarred to see the faces of some of the greatest monsters of the 20th century in the previous entry. The pictures remind us that evil exists. Historically, other religions have accepted evil as something the gods are powerless or unwilling to oppose, something in which the gods themselves may participate. Some have even denied that evil exists, claiming it is just an illusion. Judaism and Christianity are committed to the idea that God is all-powerful and all-loving, so for Jews and Christians the existence of evil is a problem asking for explanation. The Bible does not give us a full answer to the problem. The Book of Genesis suggests that some evil arises from the fact that people (and heavenly beings) are free to obey or disobey God. The Book of Job goes further and explores the fact that bad things happen even to people who obey God. Job complains bitterly but he continues to serve God. At the end of the book, God speaks. He offers no philosophical explanation of evil but he urges Job to trust that, given the way the world has been set up (which Job cannot possibly understand), God is working in the right way.
In the New Testament, we see the perfect man, Jesus, also confronted with evil. Rather than combating it with bolts of lightning or troops of angels, he bows to the evil and lets it defeat him, even to the point of dying in agony following a false charge of blasphemy. But then he rose from the dead and told his followers that he had defeated evil and that even death could not separate them from eternal life with God. We still struggle in how to explain evil in the world, but we know that the all-powerful and all-loving God has subjected himself to evil and death to save us, out of love for us. This is a leader we can follow.
This day, September 21, we remember St. Matthew, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus. He was working for the Roman occupying government as a tax-collector when Jesus called him, at which point he dropped his job and followed. He is traditionally thought to have written the Gospel that bears his name. May we all follow Jesus and learn from him.
As confusing as our current times may be, this is the ideal time to learn about Matthew as we are reading from his Gospel every Sunday. The message or sermon is also taken from this Gospel. Join us in learning more, not only about Matthew, but the teacher and Lord that Matthew followed. To accommodate covid precautions we are practicing socially distant worship and fellowship. Masks are provided when you enter the building. We have a drive through communion from 9:00 am until 9:30 am for those not yet ready to enter a church. Our regular worship service, inside the church, starts at 10:00 a.m. We look forward to meeting you!