Monday, January 16, 2006

The Patron Saint of Cynics

In the story of the call of Nathanael (you may
know him better as Bartholomew) told for
us in John 1:43-51, he asks a rather cynical
question of Philip, "Can anything good come
out of Nazareth?" Implying, of course, can
anyone good come out of that extremely small
town filled with extremely poor people.

But before we dismiss Nathanael and his
question, let's admit that he is the patron saint
of all us cynical people.

Can anything (or anyone) good come out of
Tehran or Baghdad? Many of us doubt it.

Can anything (or anyone) good come out of
Crawford, Texas; Hope, Arkansas; Glasgow,
Scotland; Perth, Australia; anywhere you want
to name? We have our doubts.

About 40 years or so ago, if anyone asked "Can
anything (or anyone) good come out of Montgomery,
Alabama?" the answer would have been a resounding
"NO!" Deep South Montgomery; racist Montgomery;
first capitol of the Confederacy Montgomery? Are
you kidding?

But then came the day when Rosa Parks was too tired
to move to the back of the bus; then came the moment
when a black minister named Martin Luther King, Jr.,
was asked to head up the boycott in that city; and then
came a few, then hundreds, and finally thousands of
folks coming from all those tiny, insignificant, poor
backwaters where we never expect anything, or anyone,
good to come from.

So today, let's remember, and give thanks, for Rosa,
Martin, and all those who, with their dreams, with
their hopes, with their lives answered the question
first asked by Nathanael so long ago.

And let's remember, and give thanks, for this patron
saint of cynics, who discovered for himself that, oh
yes, someone good could come out of Nazareth,
someone so good that He is able to bring hope
out of the worst cynic.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

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