In his deeply emotive song song writer Randy Newman sings of a flood that occurred in Southern Louisiana in 1927. In haunting lyrics he begins, “What has happened down here is the wind has changed; clouds come in from the north and it start to rain…”
The people of the authentic Church that makes its goal to follow the Christ of the gospels could sing that lament in North America. We increasingly find ourselves marginalized by those who don’t understand. Sadly some of those are the very ones who call themselves Christians. But their understanding of God’s love and grace is somehow at odds with what we believe Jesus is really all about. And there are a lot of them out there. Their voices are powerful and influential.
Last week I read the words of the daughter of a famed evangelist. I heard him once say his aim was always to “just preach the cross.” By that I understand him to mean the redemptive message of life that God promises through his forgiveness and love to all humanity. But now his children have a new message and it troubles me (the winds have changed).
It appears rather subtly at first, but look closely. In a prayer written to be prayed by the faithful she takes on societal woes including everything from the morality of the president to denying human responsibility in global warming to decrying Muslims and homosexuals. Where is the cross in this?
The Church was not created by Jesus to rule the world and set right the course of humanity; the church was and is God’s expression of grace. Grace changes everything. That is the message the cross proclaims.
But the winds have changed haven’t they? Maybe, but grace hasn’t.