eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of August 28 thru September 4, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

Dear friends,

In 1945, someone discovered the following words on the wall of a basement in Germany where Jews hid themselves from the Gestapo:

I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining
I believe in love even when I am alone
I believe in God even when He is silent.

In the face of death, demonic hatred, darkness, starvation, and war, these Jewish believers held unswervingly to their faith despite God’s seeming silence.

In reading through the Psalms this year, I couldn’t help noticing the many times the Psalmist asked “Why?” in the face of horrific life circumstances. And God didn’t always provide a ready answer to their questions — yet they praised God and kept going:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
(Psalm 10:1)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
(Psalm 22:1)

Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
(Psalm 44:24)

O Lord, why do you cast me off?
Why do you hide your face from me?
(Psalm 88:14)

Time for a confession: Over the last four months, I do find myself often saying,” Lord, really?”

Why has Haiti suffered so many catastrophes — earthquakes, hurricanes, corruption, presidential assassinations, and coups?

Why, in the land where Jesus walked, do the Palestinian people live under such soul-crushing oppression?
Why can’t the richest country in the world do more to solve the unrelenting gun violence in cities like Chicago? We can travel seven months and 300 million miles to explore Mars. Can’t we do more to solve gun violence in our cities? (Sadly, gun homicides are concentrated in cities—half of all gun homicides took place in just 127 cities, representing nearly a quarter of the US population.)

Each day, as I say my prayers riddled with Why? I remember the wise words of Jesus: there are two kingdoms at war, diametrically opposed to each other — the Kingdom of God bringing righteousness, peace, and joy, and the kingdom of darkness bringing death, war, and sorrow.
St. Augustine taught there were two “cities” or ways to live in society — one based on self-giving and one on self-serving. Much of our world’s woes stem from too many of us defying God’s invitation to live according to His city, His Kingdom.

In preparation for worship on Sunday, join me in reading Psalm 15. Notice there how human behavior brings either light or darkness into the world.

Every time we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, God speaks loudly through us to a skeptical world that He is here. Conversely, God seems silent when we remain passive.

Prayer: Lord, keep me from being either naive about human evil, self-righteous about it, or cynical before it. Don’t let me ever get used to injustice or, worse, become complicit in it. That takes constant vigilance and reflection about how I am living. Keep me loving what you love and hating what you hate. Amen.

Let your light clearly shine,

Pastor Ray Hylton

© 2023 First Presbyterian Church of Evanston

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