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Religion Column

May 19, 2012

No news is good news, but good news is the word of the gospel

On my way to Cherry Valley the other day, I was listening to National Public Radio. An economist was speaking about the plight of this year's college graduates and their chances of getting a job.

The gist of this discussion was that most graduates are doomed yet those without a college degree are even more doomed. I turned to a different radio station to hear another person talking about the downward spiral of our nation. I finally turned off the radio. I found myself overwhelmed by the state of the world today.

I thought to myself, "no news is good news." I realized you can look at that truism in two ways. "No news," meaning avoiding listening to what passes as news today, is good news; ignorance can be bliss! You can also understand it as meaning that none of the news today tends to emphasize only the bad. Television and radio news tends to keep us in a constant state of anxiety. Finally, I hit on the thought that "good news" is the meaning of the word "gospel."

In the gospel of John, Jesus says, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." God has come into the world, not so that we may have life, but that we may have an abundant life. It is not that we are given "enough," we are given more than enough.

In 23 Psalm, the Good Shepherd offers us a cup that is full to running over. It is our trust in a trustworthy God that enables us to see and experience life abundantly. This is one of the points where our faith and our culture clash. Stephen R. Covey writes about a Scarcity Mentality in his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." People with a Scarcity Mentality "see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else." In many ways our culture tries to convince us that life consists of acquiring things: big homes, new cars, the latest i-whatevers.

Seeing life as an abundant gift from God requires us to evaluate our priorities. What is really important in life? Is my life defined by the things I own or by my relationship with other people and with God?

Recognizing the gift of abundant life also requires an attitude of gratitude. Am I thankful for what I have, or am I resentful for what I don't have? Gratitude for what we have opens us to seeing the abundant life God has given us.

Experiencing God's abundant life calls for openness to the miraculous in my life. Someone once said, "Christianity is the community of miraculous expectation." If I am open to experiencing the miraculous in my life, I find it. These three attitudes are the path to recognizing the gifts God gives us in our lives.

I don't listen to the news as much as I did before. I've decided I can work toward making the world a better place by recognizing I have a life of abundance: I have a great family and loving friends. I am aware of a loving God's presence in my life. I share my abundance with those in need in whatever ways I can. As for the news: "no news IS good news."

Grennen is pastor at St. Mary's Church in Springfield Center and Grace Church in Cherry Valley.

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