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The Trail of Good and Evil

Positively Speaking

The timeline of the following column bridged a transition time in the life of Vashon Methodist. The class mentioned occurred during the last weeks of Darryn Hewson’s tenure. He and his family have now moved on to First Methodist in Everett. The event occurring in their family’s life happened during the first weeks of the new VUMC pastor Rev Dr. Kathy Morse and her husband Steve. It is the tradition of the Methodist denomination to move pastors, if they are moving, during the first weeks of July.

 My interest in the class came from two motivations. First, I have roughed out chapter two of my spiritual autobiography ‘Because the White Rose Grew; Parenthetical Confessions of a Mystic Boomer White Woman". That chapter is entitled ‘Potter 3: Pot 0: God and Evil" . I wanted to compare what I had written with what others thought.

The second reason came out of a desire to offer a study group here on the Island based on the book "The Bait of Satan". As I see it, the Island (maybe the world’s) number one problem is taking offense at something someone said or did (or you thought they said or did). This book is about how to rise above that. The premise is that much bad comes from the dynamic that starts with offense taking. BUT…

Satan is a pretty controversial word/concept/person. Seeing that a church as mainline and mainstream as the Methodist church here on the Island was offering a class that in some of the publicity was listed as ‘Who is Satan?’ I thought I’d take a listen and see their spin.

So it was that, graciously, this group of Tuesday night students who had been meeting with then Pastor Darryn Hewson welcomed me into their little group of seekers. What a privilege. What a blessing. The material presented was as good as any I took in seminary or Bible Study Fellowship. Darryn is an awesome teacher and I hope someday he is not only ministering to the laity but teaching as well. He and his wife Lisa make an awesome ministry team. Her desire to be trained as a nurse fits beautifully with both their histories and their calling and what they’ve been anointed to do.

My own reflections were confirmed through our journey in the class. We met for potluck and went our merry way…. for a week.

Then the fateful emails began. The ones that made us gasp in disbelief . Their four-year-old daughter Ainsley had slipped into Denny Creek, stayed submerged for fifteen minutes. Having thus drowned, she was found and revived by bystanders.

Because Darryn and Lisa have a worldwide ministry, worldwide prayers went up. Ainsley, and everyone else, got her miracle. A week later she was bouncing around at home.

Let’s for one minute set aside the fact that frequently we can’t agree on what is evil. Let’s also set aside the emotional buttons that get pushed when the name Satan is mentioned.

We will all agree that a four-year-old girl drowning is at the very least a bad thing. Many of us would go so far as to see that it is evil.

I learned, once more, that week, that we greatly underestimate the power of prayer. Greatly. Enormously. Beyond our comprehension, don’t fathom the power of collective prayer for a common good. All kinds of people and all kinds of faiths prayed that week for one little girl to be made alive and whole again.

Also that week there were two other stories about good and evil. There was the Rupert Murdoch story, and the beginning of the premiers of "Harry Potter 7/2".

Five years ago I ran into a particular publishing house brouhaha that seemed out of character.. It is the publishing house that for all intents and purposes owns the Bible. Yes, there is such a thing. When I queried the back-story on the backbiting of the staff, the response came, "Rupert Murdoch owns us. They’ve made some changes that are good for business. Everyone’s a little cranky".

Thus that week, it was revealed that the owner of the Bible lived a less than integrity filled, character driven life in his business dealings. Is that what one would call a cross-cultural experience? Or was Rupert just trying to revive some middle age church history where faith was commerce and financially based? To him, the Bible translates as bestseller making lots of money. (For a great essay on this check out the Huffpost religion contributor Will Braun blogpost "Rupert Murdoch: Bible Mogul).

As to the third event of the week, Harry Potter openings, let us note…spoiler alert…. evil is defeated. Around the world in many languages there is this overwhelming cheer. The event was an enormously satisfying ending to our own story that we have attached to that series. The desire for that ending in our own lives resonates almost universally in all ages and stages.

Circling back to Ainsley, I had this thought. What if we just needed more people praying together to defeat the big evils? Yes, yes, doers of course. The medical team, the bystanders, and the people who carried the Hewson’s physical needs for a week certainly were part of the miracle. But what if prayer had made a difference? What if it takes not only a village to raise a child but an army of prayer warriors?

For those of us who pray without ceasing, it’s an obvious answer. For those of you who have not tried it yet, or tried it once and ‘didn’t get what you wanted’, Try again…and again…and again….

Ainsley Hewson is alive and well. Like I said before…Sole Deo Gloria.