My parents partner with a small NGO in Uganda, to provide vocational training to impoverished young mothers. To support them, my mom has made hundreds of bars of soap to sell as a fundraiser. Some soap was sold, but with Corona, we didn’t have time to sell all of it. So, this week, we packed it all up nicely and gave it to the local food bank in Bruchsal. It was a box of around 300 bars of soap. The place we took it was quite large. It was one of the only regional food banks to be open during the pandemic. All employees wore good filter masks and handled all products with care. I had never been to this place. I was impressed.
I have a commission to draw illustrations for my professor at seminary. He wants pictures of the Old Testament (first part of the Bible). I have already completed phase one and two of the project. Now, I started the third and final phase. This will mean between 30 and 40h more hours of work, I am around 20h in. The result: some pictures of key people, and several battle scenes (Joshua at Jericho, the End of the Book of Judges). Many of the stories are quite gruesome. Especially in the book of Judges. One story tells how a woman was gang-raped to death and how her husband cut her in 12 pieces and sent each piece to one of the 12 tribes. It was a gruesome way to draw attention to the crime against his wife and led to a civil war. You look at stories like these and think “How is this in the Bible?”. But the text gives its own answer: It doesn’t condone or justify the actions. It recalls what happened with almost no judgment, except for a reoccurring comment that says “In those days Israel had no king. Everyone did as they saw fit.”. To me, these “darker” parts of the Bible are not obsolete. They show us a striking image of the darkness of humanity. They show that people, no matter what culture or time period, have the capacity for evil. But even in the darkest chapters, there is still a silver lining: The brokenness of humanity can never fully deter man’s capacity for good. We are capable of mass murder but also of public art festivals. We can destroy environments or we can plant trees and help the world around us. We can only think of ourselves, or we can think of other people and the big picture. To a varying degree, we are given the right and the responsibility to choose. Even now in this pandemic, we have that right and responsibility to choose what we do. I hope you feel the courage and motivation to get up in the morning and to call your friends and study or work at home, to do what is best for you and those around you. But, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to “feel like it” to do those things. That is actually very freeing: You may not have fun with that choice, but be grateful that you have the choice. And use it. It may not seem like much, but you never know what your choice will do for the big picture. Stay safe, and have a great day!