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Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
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Tuesday, May 26

Today’s Readings: Psalm 52; Ezekiel 3:17-27; Luke 10:17-24; 3 John 1-8; Psalm 64

In the early 1990’s I was blessed with the opportunity to serve on the Human Rights Commission for the City of Spokane, WA. In the four years I served on the Commission I was blessed with the opportunity to hear many stories about brave people standing up to hate in their own community. One of my favorite stories involved the community of Billings, MT. The area in which I lived (the Inland Northwest) was a hot-bed for white supremacy groups. In the year 1993, the activity of white supremacist groups reached a crescendo in Billings when KKK fliers were distributed to homes throughout the community, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated, the home of a Native American family was painted with swastikas, and a brick was thrown through the window of a six-year-old boy who had displayed a Menorah for Hanukkah. Many segments of the community felt as if they were under siege! It would have been easy for the members of the community to respond to the messages of hate with their own brand of hate. Instead, the people of Billings responded with love and a sense of solidarity with those whom the white supremacists had sought to marginalize. One of the most moving responses the members of the community made occurred when the local newspaper printed a full-page picture of a Menorah. The editors of the paper hoped that some members of the community would display the Menorahs in their front windows as a sign of solidarity with Jewish members of the community. Guess how many residents displayed the Menorah? Nearly 10,000 homes and businesses. What a powerful witness!! I was reminded of that experience as I was reading today’s passage from Luke. In that passage, the Gospel tells us Jesus said: “All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you” (Luke 10:19 from The Message). It would have been so easy for the members of Billings to try to respond to the acts of hate by exercising their muscles and pushing the white supremacists out of town. Had they done so – had they attempted to show their authority over the evil they faced - it simply would have escalated acts of physical and psychological violence in their community. By turning their thoughts inward, however, they were able to let the transformative power of God’s love and grace shape their response. The expressions of hate stopped immediately. Perhaps there is an area of your life with which you are struggling. Your first instinct might tell you to hunker down for a long and protracted battle as you defeat “the evil” before you. If that’s the case, I would invite you to consider doing what the people of Billings did; fight that first instinct and instead open yourself to God’s authority in your life. Once you do that, the so-called enemies you face might evaporate in the face of God’s awesome presence. Til next time…

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