By: Pastor Mary Beth Hartenstein

Today the world seems filled with all sorts of events and items that are worth my attention, our attention, and the church’s attention.  Some are as near as members of our congregation who are dealing with the challenges of their lives: a parent’s recent death after an illness, the grief of a spouse’s death several months ago that still brings tears to their heart and their eyes, the death of an infant daughter whose life had just barely begun and ought to have been in this mother’s arms as Mother’s Day was celebrated.

There are events close to our community:  murders are up in the Cedar Rapids area, Michael Sam kissed his partner as they shared the excitement of Sam’s recent call to play for the St. Louis Rams, and racist remarks by an owner of a National Basketball Association team that have made headlines.  There are events that are half a world away: a still missing plane that seems to have vanished into thin air, hundreds of school girls kidnapped and have vanished almost like the plane did; and unrest continues in the Ukraine. These are just a small sampling of all that pulls at our hearts and competes for our attention.

Where do we start?  What do we do?  Does it really matter?

It would be easy to feel overwhelmed.  It would require little effort to focus on the undemanding.  It would make us more comfortable to push all of those situations and persons aside.  Yet that is exactly what we ought not to do if we are going to be followers of Jesus.  In the stories we have about him, he often places himself right in the middle of all that stuff that others seemed to want nothing to do with: lepers and bleeding women, unsavory tax collectors and women who did what they needed to in order to survive, and in the care of the least and the lost.  And then he had the nerve to say, “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

To answer the questions from above:

Where do we start?  Right where we are because where we are is holy ground.

What do we do?  What we can, for that is all God asks of us.

Does it really matter?  Jesus thought so and that’s good enough for me.