A Story About Good News (For A Change)
There's so much bad and troubling news lately, so I have been on a mission to find and read news stories that are more uplifting and inspiring.
It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, but not impossible. Also, I feel like the more I read these stories online, the more the social media and internet search algorithms will learn to show me more.
That'll teach 'em.
Today I read a story that left me with an awesome feeling of hope.
Hope, I've learned, is a particularly powerful antidote for the gloom that usually hovers over me when I read the most recent news about the election ridiculousness or the seriousness of the latest COVID spikes.
The story I read was about a guy in Kansas City who launched an artisan furniture company right before the COVID crisis. When things started looking bleak, he quickly decided to begin making masks in his workroom, taught himself to sew, and started marketing them.
When he couldn't keep up with the demand, he decided to hire people who could sew and found a willing partner in a local Refugee Services agency, and a Christian organization that existed to find work for refugee women---many of whom were professional seamstresses.
In the end, he hired over a dozen refugee women from Myanmar, Indonesia, and even a group from Afghanistan. They produced thousands of masks, giving away 10,000 or more to front line health care workers.
Then when mask demand began to wane, they started making bags. Some of them learned how to work with leather, and they started making purses.
The work helped the women put food on their table and care for their families, and taught a valuable lesson to the owner of the company about the power of compassion mixed with imagination.
As I was reading the story, I couldn't help but remember a verse I'd read before from the Hebrew Scriptures book of Leviticus.
“The [refugee] who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the [refugee] as yourself, for you were [refugees] in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:34
This command from God was meant to remind the Hebrew people that their ancestors had come to Egypt during a time of economic hardship in their own land. They were refugees there, and as such their descendants were required to remember it, and act accordingly---even though generations had passed since.
You know where I'm going with this, right?
America was largely founded by people who sought refuge. These ancestors of ours longed for freedom from the oppressive hierarchical systems of Old Europe... freedom to practice their faith, free from the control of the state... freedom to make a new life...
And if that isn't enough to give us pause...
Each of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus comes into that relationship as a refugee as well. We are the misfits, the outcasts, the messed-up versions of who God longs for us to become. Jesus welcomes us all and gives us a new identity, a new family, a new home.
As people of God and followers of Jesus, we need to be reminded of where we've come from---both generationally and spiritually. And we need to act accordingly.
Stories like the one I related remind us of our shared humanity, and our shared journey as one community. We need to know this right now. We need to reconnect with the original goodness bestowed upon us by the Creator since the beginning of all things.
We need to be better to one another ... and we can be. It's within us to do so.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.