God is trans­form­ing the world through us

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - FATHER KEN PARKS Ken Parks is the for­mer rec­tor of St. Theodore’s Epis­co­pal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email to frkenparks@sbcglobal.net. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

Nel­son Man­dela and Des­mond Tutu were the ar­chi­tects of dis­man­tling apartheid in South Africa.

Arch­bishop Tutu, who is the au­thor of “God Has a Dream: A Vi­sion of Hope for Our New Time” wrote: “There is no such thing as a help­less case. Our God is an ex­pert at deal­ing with chaos, with bro­ken­ness, with all the worst that we can imag­ine. God cre­ated or­der out of dis­or­der, cos­mos out of chaos. God is trans­form­ing the world not — through us — be­cause God loves us.”

One of his fa­vorite il­lus­tra­tions was about a young physi­cist that made an ap­point­ment to see a priest. Be­fore the young man sat down, he pro­claimed: “I do not be­lieve in God.” He then con­tin­ued non­stop ar­gu­ments to sup­port his con­clu­sion.

The priest an­swered him, “You have given a lot of thought to your be­lief that God does not ex­ist, but you started in the wrong place.”

The star­tled young man asked the priest what was the right place to be­gin. The priest replied, “You should have said, ‘God be­lieves in me, but I don’t be­lieve in God.’ Had you done so, we would have some­thing to talk about to­day.”

The young man asked, “How can we restart our con­ver­sa­tion?”

The priest replied, “Let us pray,” and they bowed their heads.

Our daily start­ing point with God is prayer. It is vi­tal to our spir­i­tual health. Prayer, like all good di­a­logues, re­quires speak­ing and lis­ten­ing. When pray­ing, we can go on and on and fail to pause and lis­ten to God.

I be­gin my day by sit­ting on our screened porch lis­ten­ing to the sounds of the woods that are fore­cast­ing the ris­ing of the sun. I hear the barn owl that I have seen oc­ca­sion­ally, but I know the owl’s voice. The other birds chime in, as do the tree frogs. They re­mind me of my re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect them and be their ad­vo­cate be­cause they, too, are cre­ated by God and have a place in the king­dom.

This helps me be­gin the morn­ing di­a­logue with our lov­ing and ev­er­p­re­sent God. Note: I have never heard God call­ing me to ac­cept the cur­rent ir­re­spon­si­ble na­tional and lo­cal mono­logue that are laced with lies, hate and in­ten­tional at­tacks on in­di­vid­u­als, races and so­cio-eco­nomic groups that are pow­er­less to de­fend them­selves. It’s an epi­demic that has spread to all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, me­dia and into our cher­ished in­sti­tu­tions. To­day’s Amer­i­can mantra is “Be scared to death!” But God said this: "Be not afraid."

We still can hear the voices of the prophets and Je­sus’ voice in the Gospels telling us to lov­ingly care for one an­other, in­clud­ing all our neigh­bors. We have been told re­peat­edly to lis­ten and be still and know that God is God. We hear that God be­lieves in us and re­mem­ber the ad­mo­ni­tion of Au­gus­tine of Hippo, “With­out God we can­not …” There are no cast-offs or spec­ta­tors in the King­dom of God.

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