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Some days all I hear, it seems, is bad news. The COVID-19 pandemic keeps us on edge as warranted concerns dominate media headlines. We are told to stay home, maintain appropriate “social distance,” avoid large gatherings, wash our hands frequently, work from home if we can, in order to protect our neighbors and ourselves. Restaurants are closed. Those suffering with COVID-19 (usually physically distanced from family), senior adults isolated at home to reduce their exposure to the novel coronavirus, medical staff working mad hours in dangerous situations, people who have lost their jobs, economic insecurity, and churches which are relational enterprises being “forced” to foster community online could ALL use a little good news!

 

I rarely have the chance to watch the national evening news, but my mother-in-law watches religiously. At dinner time I usually say, “Well, did you hear any good news?” Her typical answer is, “There isn’t much good news—except for the last feel-good story.” “What a pity there isn’t more good news to report,” I remark.

 

Easter Sunday this year was anything but normal. I attended drive-in worship at Central Baptist Church. Many Easter celebrations were altered because of gathering restrictions, however despite disruptions, resurrection alleluias were not silenced! In fact, for Christ-followers every Sunday is an Easter celebration and a reminder resurrection is possible in our lives. This is good news, and this is The Good News!  Do not allow anything to eclipse this Good News. Not fear, not worry, not pandemic or myriad other life-changing and life-challenging events can mute the Good News of Christ’s resurrection!

 

I believe the church can and must be on the front lines proclaiming good news. Certainly today’s church faces challenges and grave realities:  fears about having enough offerings to pay staff, worries about ministering to folks you can’t visit in person, serving the dying and their families when typical funeral good-byes aren’t allowed, keeping youth groups excited about their faith and their fellowship, the list goes on. Despite our fear and worry, I wonder what it would look like for the church to more intentionally and regularly dispense good news in the midst of struggle?

 

Inspiration often comes from unexpected places. Actor John Krasinski’s internet sensation Some Good News (SGN) is, I believe, a vehicle for inspiration and encouragement. If you haven’t seen this creative and heartwarming weekly program by Krasinski, I commend it to you. In the midst of pandemic fear, Krasinski is a force for good! His efforts to share good news – with incredible levity – happening in our world every day, lifts my spirits. Check SGN out!

 

As people possessed by resurrection hope, isn’t it time for us to step up and daily share some good news? Hope is not ours to possess; hope is a gift to be shared. Along with all God’s good gifts to us, we are commanded to share the good news of faith, hope, and love.

 

In this time of worldwide epidemic, far too many churches project negativity to a frightened, anxious, and hope-deprived people who desperately need to hear God loves and cares. How often does proclamation focus on judgment and what (the preacher says) God hates, which naturally implies listeners should hate the same people or things? How often do we hear preaching that makes Christians “victims” of unfairness, abuse, and injustice? Be assured, this kind of preaching is code language implying the church is being destroyed by cultural expectations or political parties outside the church. Astute students of scripture know nothing outside the church can destroy the church (“the gates of hell won’t prevail against it”). To my way of thinking, the only way to destroy a congregation develops inside the church (us vs. them thinking; believing we are right and everyone else is wrong; poor theology and biblical interpretation that make God look bad; limiting the reach of God’s love and grace; judgmental attitudes and actions; saying “no” to Jesus’s call to justice and action in the world; continuing to insist the only thing that matters is believing in Jesus). All the aforementioned “bad news” demoralizes folks sitting in the pews (or listening over the airwaves).

 

Our world desperately needs to hear GOD IS LOVE; God’s all-encompassing love and grace extends to everyone; God passionately desires to redeem and resurrect every life; God shows favor to the least of these; faith is animated as we show God’s justice and love in the world. Our message must be “God cares.” God is our strength, hope, and peace in dark and fearful circumstances.

 

CBF churches throughout Virginia are dispensing good news. I hear stories every week from congregations about good and innovative ministry happening in the midst of the pandemic crisis. Folks flock to good news like moths to the flame! Will you share some good news happening in your neck of the woods? CBFVA is happy to share your good news stories with folks across the Fellowship! Send them to me at tmaples@cbfva.org.