Text: Acts 17:22-31
I imagine that it won’t surprise any of you to hear me say that Oprah Winfrey is one of my heroes. Like many, for the past 25 years, I have admired her compassionate, yet firm way of speaking truth on important societal issues—many of which were justice issues. In 1986, when she began the Oprah Winfrey Show, I was a first year seminary student. There were several of us who would try to arrange our class schedules so that we could gather each afternoon to watch her show. What drew me to the Oprah show then, and what kept me watching over the years, was this amazing gift that she had for getting to the heart of issues in a way that brought meaning and truth with an incredible sense of compassion and grace.
Since seminary, I have not been able to watch as much Oprah as I would have liked. The duties of adulthood took priority. But I was aware that on this past Wednesday the final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show would air. And as much as I wanted to watch it, I knew I couldn’t skip my 4:00 appointment to watch Oprah. That evening, though, thanks to modern technology, I watched and listened as Oprah said good-bye to her viewers and shared what she had learned over the past 25 years of interviewing her guests. I would rank her reflections as one of the best sermons I have ever heard—theologically sound, redemptive, and inspiring. She reminded her viewers of these truths:
1. That every single person wants the same thing—for someone to see them, hear them, and for what they feel and think to matter to someone else. On this principle, she noted that she had been able to hold the microphone for all kinds of people to tell their story.
2. That we are enough just as we are and that as God’s beloved we are worthy of goodness and joy.
3. That the energy we send out into the world is the energy that comes back to us—her version of the Golden Rule.