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N. Moore

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Birds


I grew up in Texas, often wakened by the rasp of blue jays outside my window, frequently entertained by mockingbirds with their collection of stolen songs.  Buzzards circled in the sky.  On the ground, close up, they are hideous creatures, but high overhead, riding the wind, barely moving their wings, they looked majestic.

When we moved to Rochester, Minnesota we lived on Assissi Heights, next to the Convent that housed the nursing staff for St. Mary’s and Mayo Clinic.  I watched the Canadian geese migrating to and from the fields in their Vee formation. Sometimes they passed so low overhead I could hear the wind in their wings, not to mention their constant honking.  I later learned they can fly 70% further in formation than they can fly alone.

I camped with my sons in the Boundary Waters, a wilderness region of rivers and lakes on the Canadian border.  A bald eagle built her nest in the top of a lone tree on a rocky island less than 50 yards from our camp.  When she circled overhead the sun glistened off her white head.

We owned a beach house for a few years on Galveston Island.  I never tired watching the sea gulls balance on the wind, descending delicately to the shallow surf where they laughed and danced on stick legs. They seemed to think it was hilarious. I watched the pelicans swoop in squadrons over the breaking waves. One or more would suddenly drop in a vertical dive, splash in the surf and return to the sky with an unsuspecting fish.

In Colorado our house looks out on an open marsh.  Every spring the red-wing black birds return to build their nests in the tall grass.  And, as in Minnesota, the Canadian geese occasionally fill the sky from one horizon to the other.

In every region and every climate birds survive and thrive.  They are masters of the air, the forests, the land and the sea. No wonder Jesus encouraged us to “consider the birds.”

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in [x]hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-29).

He who cares for the birds of the air will doubtless care for you.  You are of great worth to God.   Look to the birds and listen to their song. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Viral Gospel


The world is once again is on the verge of panic over a new viral strain that threatens a global epidemic. In spite of efforts to contain it, the 2019-nCoV caronovirus continues to leap national boundaries.  In the first three weeks the infection soared from 50 in China to 17,000 in 23 countries with 425 deaths.  We must pray for those who have been affected, especially for those in China and for the families who have lost loved ones.

The power and potential of anything “going viral” is mind boggling. “Going viral” was once limited to communicable diseases, the kinds that are so easily transmitted that they can rapidly escalate into an epidemic.  In our day the term means something quite different.  With the aid of the Internet, email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, text messaging and You Tube, what was obscure can “go viral” and become suddenly famous.

Facebook went viral in 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg and a few friends launched it from their dorm rooms at Harvard.  Today, more than one billion people use Facebook.  It boasted a market cap in 2019 of over $500 billion and has become one of the most powerful tools on the Internet to catapult others into the “viral” stratosphere.

The Swedish teenage climate activist, Greta Thornberg, was catapulted to fame after she posted her first protest as a 15-year-old on Instagram and twitter. Within a week she gained international attention.  Her actions went viral on Facebook and other media and in December 2019 Time named her the youngest ever “Person of the Year.”

“Going viral” appears to be a twenty-first century phenomenon. But is it? 

History documents that the Gospel went viral following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  There was no media campaign.  There were no reporters, no cameras, no photo ops, no internet, no Facebook.  But somehow, Jesus impacted and changed the world.  Growing up in the obscure and infamous village of Nazareth, Jesus’ public ministry lasted only three years.  He walked wherever he went and never traveled more than one hundred miles from his birth place. When He was crucified, there were no papers to report it, no news teams to film it. But the news spread around the world and is continuing to spread today.  It did so by “going viral.” 
Paul spoke of.”the gospel which has come to you, just as  in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.”  (Colossians1:6). And again, “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” 2 Cor 4:15, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8).
When the Gospel goes viral, it requires more than posting a few sentences or a video clip on the intenet, more than “clicking” and forwarding information.  The Kingdom of God goes viral when lives are transformed by faith in Jesus Christ so that society is saturated with honesty, integrity, justice and generosity.  Changed lives change the lives of those around them. The Gospel has gone viral in previous generations.  It could “go viral” in ours.