A touch of irony re The King of Pop and Massanetta

Last Wednesday night, I was at the Massanetta Middle School Conference with about 300 middle school students.  We arrived Tuesday afternoon, had been in our encounter groups, had worshipped together several times, had tons of fun, had met many new friends, and had already seen several clear examples of God at work in our midst. Wednesday night, we were going to spend part of the evening working with an organization called Stop Hunger Now as all of us were going to prepare meals for the hungry in the world.  Now, we weren’t going to just prepare a few meals, we were going to make over 10,000 meals that evening.  If you visit SHN’s website (linked above), you will see the process we used to make the meals. It was an incredible experience as we packaged those 10,000 meals in approximately 20 minutes.  As I caught the freshly sealed packages of food, I prayed for each of them as I could that they would be used to not only stem the hunger pangs that people were feeling, but would truly be like the loaves and fishes and be multiplied in ways beyond anything I could ask or imagine.

It was ironic, then, that the next night, we stood outside the same building where we packaged those meals that we started hearing the rumor pass around that Michael Jackson died.  Some said that they heard from someone that he had died, some said that it was just a rumor, and we started talking about whether this was like Elvis’ death to a new generation.  It didn’t really hit me until now (nearly a week after that amazing experience of the meals and since Jackson’s death) the sad irony at work.  Stories about Michael Jackson’s death have dominated the media since last Thursday night.  CNN.com has continued to feature stories about his death at the top of their page, retrospectives of his life have been run seemingly non-stop, and I am sure this will continue for weeks ahead.  There were even stories of how people searching for info about him crashed many major news websites the night of his death.

The sad irony is how accustomed we have become to the daily injustices and horrors taking place moment-by-moment in the world to the point that we don’t think of them at all, but instead focus on one “story” after another and miss so much of the reality of the world we live in.  I write this as one who falls into this trap time after time, whether its obsessing over one of my sports teams, a fantasy football draft, the latest tech news, what will happen on Lost, and so forth.  I throw as many stones at my glass house as anyone else’s.  And I also empathize with the family of Michael Jackson – children who have lost a father, parents who have lost a son, and siblings who have lost a brother.  Yet, in the 5 days since Michael Jackson’s death…

  • An estimated 125,000 people have died of hunger related diseases
  • Approximately 72,000 of those people are children

I don’t write this simply to guilt people, but as a reminder to me (and to us all) of the call that we have as followers of Jesus to care for the “least among us” and to remember the words of Jesus that we will have served Jesus when we serve those who are hungry, sick, naked, and imprisoned.  Yes, the story of Michael Jackson’s death (and parts of his life) are tragic and give the media a lot to talk about for a short period of time.  And I, like millions of others, loved much of his music (I wore out my LP of Thriller).  But…may we never forget that there are people each day who are desperately striving for the absolute basic necessities of life while we watch the saga unfold around his death.

During the last worship service of the conference, we were led into our prayer of confession by the song Share the Well by Caedmon’s Call…

Share the well
Share with your brother
Share the well, my friend
It takes a deeper well
To love one another
Share the well, my friend

Je ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

Do you think the water knows
Flowing down to the mountain thaw
Finally to find repose
For any soul who cares to draw
Some kindred keepers of this earth
On their way to join the flow
Are cast aside and left to thirst
Tell me now it is not so

All God’s creatures share the water hole
The blessed day the monsoon comes
And in His image we are woven
Every likeness every one
From Kashmir to Karala
Under every banyan tree
Mothers for their children cry
With empty jar and bended knee

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

You know I’ve heard good people say
There’s nothing I can do
That’s half a world away
Well maybe you’ve got money
Maybe you’ve got time
Maybe you’ve got the Living Well
That ain’t ever running dry

Je ra, ji ra, ji ra, de ji ra, de ji, ji, ji

And in the time that it took to read this post and listen to the song, approximately 40 children died of hunger somewhere in the world…

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