Daily Reflection
April 24th, 1999
Joan Howard
University College
Acts 9:31-42
Psalms 116:12-17
John 6:60-69

Recently browsing through a box of discarded books, I came upon the title, A Few Useful Negroes.  I actually  felt a physical shock.  I was appalled and more than a little embarrassed.  I did not want to be seen with the book in my hands, but I could not resist knowing what it was about.  It was a book about the contributions of selected African Americans at the turn of the century.  At the time it was published, 1950ís, maybe the title was acceptable.  However, today it is not only politically incorrect, it is down right offensive.

In todayís readings from the Acts of the Apostles, we encounter a story of healing and resurrection.  The characters are the paralyzed, bedridden Aeneas, the deceased Tabitha, and her friends, the "saints and widows".  Only weeks removed from Christís own death and resurrection, we can not help but be pulled back to the crucifixion scene with the women, including Christís widowed mother, standing at the foot of the cross.  Our minds naturally play on to the following morning when again it is the women who were the first to come to the tomb.

What strikes me in both the reading and in my own experience with the old book, is how we have come to departmentalize things.  We call them issues.  We have the gender issue, the race issue, the capital punishment issue, the abortion and assisted death issues.  Not to forget the international issues.   The list is endless.  In trying to cope with all these issues, I think we may be reading into scripture what may not be there.  When we encounter scripture in fragments, we tend to loose focus of the big picture.  Christís message, his dream, and that of the apostles was the issue of inclusion, - one family, one community - compassion, and mercy - for one and all.

I do not know about you, but for me this makes the "issues" at once more of a mental challenge, but at the same time somehow easier to hold in my heart.

"I walk before the Lord in the Land of the living."  (Psalm 116)

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