Texts: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Luke 4:14-21
One of my Christmas gifts this year was a three-month daily subscription to The New York Times. For a year now I have read the New York Times headline articles on an app on my iPhone. But invariably someone would say to me, “There was a great editorial in The New York Times. Did you read it?” My answer was always “No,” because I didn’t get the whole paper on my phone app. Even though I knew I could get a subscription online, I am a person who likes to hold a book or paper in my hands when I read. But a home delivery subscription seemed like an indulgence, so I grumbled about it, occasionally bought the paper at the store, and resigned myself to missing out.
But on Tuesday morning, December 25, I walked out on my front porch to find my very own The New York Times. Santa had come through! I couldn’t wait that morning to sit down with a cup of tea and read it “cover to cover.” And I did – and for the next four mornings after that I did. Tuesday morning. Wednesday morning. Thursday morning. Friday morning. By Saturday morning, I was so depressed that I could barely face opening the door to pick up the coveted paper I had so looked forward to receiving and reading. The news – all of it – seemed to be nothing but bad news. Gun violence, fiscal cliff, the banning of Russian adoptions, floods and bombings, and unrest all over the world filled page after page. There was even a story about a church in Boston that had divided over the decision to sell a rare psalm book. The Old South Boston Church, which owns two of the first-edition copies of the Bay Psalm Book, printed in 1640 – valued at up to $20 million dollars – voted to sell one of the copies to raise money for renovations. $7 million dollars of maintenance deferred and a rare book has divided one of the oldest churches in the country. Even the potentially good news stories turned out to be bad news.