Pastoral Message – July 3, 2022
I am going to confess to one of my silly little sins. I watch You Tube videos.
I’m humbled and slightly ashamed to admit it – just like in Confession. There is such ridiculous stuff on there which is a mix of the lowest culture, conspiracy theories, fraudulent businesses, and human depravity. If you want to see just how useless YouTube is, type in “10 hours of goats screaming”. There are literally 100s of videos of goats, sheep and other ruminants showing hours of screaming, baying, grunting, mooing, etc. for hours and hours. And the really sad part, there are millions of viewers watching this stuff! And yikes! I’m one of them! Thus, the awful confession!
But on YouTube there are also music videos, videos with historical content, nostalgic reruns of old radio and television, and of course, puppy and kitten videos. So, there it is. A very human mixed bag of useless, but somehow entertaining, video content.
Around this time of year, my YouTubing runs toward the nostalgic and patriotic. I’ve been watching Kate Smith singing videos. I only watch one song. I’ve invited every member of the parish staff to watch it with me. They humor me. Like the younger parish staff, many of you don’t know who Kate Smith was. Let me just say that she was a big star in music, film, Broadway, and on radio in the 1930s and 40s. The one video I’ve watched a number of times is from a 1943 movie “This is the Army”. Kate Smith is filmed singing “God Bless America”. This is certainly a sugary, sappy kind of video. It’s meant to tug at every heart sting. And while I am emotionally stirred, I’m also spiritually reminded that God has blessed us as a nation.
Now, even as I reflect on God blessing our country, I also know of the arrogance, self-righteousness, and hubris that can follow an unthinking, ungrateful, and ungodly patriotism. As Christians, our recognition of God’s grace bestowed on our nation, must be accompanied by an on-going attitude of sharing our blessing. In our current social milieu, we’re reminded daily that there have been times in our history when injustices and atrocities occurred. This is true. And this is so horribly, tragically human. So we can become cynical, jaded, or full of rage over the past. But if we have a Divine awareness, such evils can be seen as never being the majority’s intent. We have fought wars over the division of intent, over injustice, bigotry, and sins against humanity. And while the past reminds us that even the best of intentions can be less than perfect, today we must continue to strive for that which is just, right, and true. Let’s not get caught up in the politics of cynicism and anger. Instead, let’s each be a God-filled blessing which wells up into a nation that can bless the world.
So today, if you find yourself surfing online – on your phone, tablet, or PC – you might find yourself wandering through videos. Generationally, it might not be YouTube, but TikTok. Find something that pulls at your heart-strings or even better, a video that pulls at your “soul strings”. A waste of time then becomes prayer-filled time. Pray for our country. Pray for your fellow citizens. And pray that God might continue to bless America, so that America can bless and benefit all in a cynical and suffering world.