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Dear President Trump:

Today’s Daily Lectionary readings are tragic stories of missing grace.

In the Old Testament reading, the prophet Jeremiah tells the people that God will bring disaster upon their land if they do not turn from their evil ways. The temple will be destroyed and Jerusalem will “be desolate, without inhabitants.”  But if the people turn from their harmful ways, God will give them a second chance.  Instead of heeding Jeremiah’s words, the people attack the messenger and threaten to kill him. (Jeremiah 26:1-24)

In the Gospel reading, the people take offense at Jesus for healing the sick and for claiming to be one with God.  Many say, “He has a demon and is out of his mind.” Others pick up stones and try to kill him. (John 10:19-42)

Albany "Bulb" - former garbage dump - Oakland

Albany “Bulb” – former garbage dump, Oakland, CA – Photo by Howard Zehr

Attacking the messenger is a natural response when someone speaks truth that we don’t want to hear. By defaming the messenger, we seek to discredit the message. But we also miss an opportunity for grace – an opening for a second chance.

It is a gift to have people who speak truth into our lives. It offers an occasion to change and to chart a more life-giving path.

The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once quipped: “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Mr. President, not every criticism is fair or accurate. But don’t reject those which are filled with truth. Don’t miss out on grace.


J. Daryl Byler