I watch the TV news - not the 24-hour cable channels, but the three major network channels plus BBC and PBS. It's very enlightening. I can find out what's going on in our nation and in our world - usually from BBC and PBS. From the local news I find out about the local crimes and the weather. From the network news I find out a few things that are going on, but primarily I am informed about the things that really matter - the latest adventures of Prince Andrew and his lovely bride, the Kardashian wedding, and of course, the latest important political issues and gossip. Occasionally there is really good coverage of real events, such as the 70th anniversary of D-Day. From what I've seen of the 24-hour networks, they simply cover the same material; they just repeat themselves more, plus they give much more opinion and speculation.
One event that has occupied all these media is the release of a young soldier who had been held prisoner by the Taliban for five years. The first news of his release was exciting. All the talking heads appeared to rejoice. President Obama made an announcement in the Rose Garden, accompanied by the young man's parents, who had apparently been grieving and praying for their son all these years. His home town was planning a huge welcome home celebration. Welcome home signs sprang up all over.
But it wasn't long before matters started to unravel. Complaints were coming from Republican leaders: the President had exchanged five terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo for the young American. Even worse, he had not properly notified congress of his actions beforehand. I realize I should have expected their complaints. But then these were joined by Democratic congressmen as well. A lot of righteous indignation!
And the news media gobbled it up, giving plenty of time for the complainers to air their grievances night after night, along with defensive remarks from the Administration. Commentators on one of the 24-hour news networks (let the reader figure out which) even wondered aloud if the President had committed an impeachable offense.
And with every bit of "news" we were made to witness the face of a frightened confused young man - a young man who had gone through five years of who-knows-what kinds of terrifying experiences. And we saw the faces of his hurting parents.
And then rumors that this soldier had deserted his company, accompanied by accusations from (supposedly) his fellow soldiers. Night after night on the news we heard further details and speculations. He was tried and convicted by the news media before he had even reached America's shores. And, as usual, we got to see the same pictures of his frightened face.
His parents too were tried and convicted, not only by the news media, but also by the opinions of some of our great American "patriots" (probably most of whom had not served in the military). They have even begun to receive death threats.
The home town decided to call off the planned home-coming celebration. The signs began to come down.
SHAME ON US!!
Here is a young man who has suffered for five years at the hands of terrorists, who served in the army in combat before that. Here are parents - young people themselves - who have had to pray for their son for five years and wonder if they'd ever see him again. None of us knows what these people have gone through or what they are still going through.
If this soldier has done wrong, it is not the responsibility of the news media or self-appointed "patriots" to try, convict and punish him. Neither is it anyone's responsibility to do the same to his parents.
I can only pray that these three will know the love and comfort of friends and loved ones and especially the love and comfort of Christ. And if this young man has done wrong, I pray that he will know Christ's love and forgiveness and the love and forgiveness of his friends, community and fellow soldiers.
See the letter from a former family pastor:
This was our corporate prayer of confession at First Presbyterian Church, Edmond, this Pentecost Sunday:
"Heavenly Father, You send us the Spirit of courage, but we choose to remain afraid. You send us the Spirit of truth, but we cling to our comfortable lies. You send us the Spirit of reconciliation, but we refuse to forgive. Holy Spirit, Lord of life, come to us in power: shake our hearts, set our souls ablaze with Your love; send us out into the world, rejoicing as You lead us. We hand over to You all our particular burdens of guilt and sin, and we ask for You to help us live in the way of Jesus, for the praise of His name."
It was because of the circumstances mentioned above that this prayer hit me so hard. Uni