Erika Haub on The Good News
This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. While Erika recently moved to Seattle, her local newspaper for the last six and a half years has been the Los Angeles Times. Here is Erika Haub on the Good News.
THE GOOD NEWS
Having just left Los Angeles after almost seven years in the city, I am going to cheat a bit and direct this reflection toward the people I have loved and shared life with in that city. I don’t intend any slight to the good people of my new hometown, Seattle; it is simply a chance for some reflective closure to a most significant season; a public good-bye or final benediction to my little corner of L.A. My local paper for the last six and a half years was the Los Angeles Times.
As endless as L.A. can feel, interminable in its scope and spread, my experience of the city feels so small. Life was largely lived on a handful of streets, and my L.A. is the sounds and color and smells of too many bodies packed into tiny apartments; streets that served as playgrounds; sirens and helicopters and quincenieras; and the occasional silence that always felt heavier than the noise.
I remember standing late one afternoon on the corner of 30th and Kenwood where we lived. A group of us had gathered to light candles and pray in response to a murder that had taken place a few days before. Carlos had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his neck and chest, and little was done at the scene to attempt to save him. Moments before he was shot, the corner where he died had been what it always was: a hangout for kids of all ages. And then came the shots that stole one more soul away from our congested street.
I remember standing there, hugging my very pregnant belly, and wondering about it all: what did it mean for me to bring good news here to this stained and fragile place? As a follower of Jesus, my vocation is exactly that: to announce and bear witness to something that takes the wounds and wars of this world and declares their defeat. And I will confess that that afternoon, standing on Kenwood Avenue, I yearned for the ability to do more than simply proclaim what, in that moment, struggled to feel true:
That a savior had indeed come into the world so that healing and hope would be given the final word. That Jesus had truly conquered death via the unlikely path from a bloody birth to a bloody tree. That the groans of the earth will one day be met with a profound restoration and rebirth that has been promised from the beginning of time.
Early on in Jesus’ public life, he introduced himself this way: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.” And Jesus’ own mother, likely hugging her own pregnant belly, describes what God is doing by sending Jesus saying: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”
That is how Jesus and his mother defined “good news” to their city, and it is easy to imagine how those definitions did not feel like good news to a fair number of people then. I imagine they still don’t today. L.A. knows something about enthroning people: L.A. is no stranger to power and prisons and pride. Which is why I wonder how good the good news can ever sound to a city sold on all things famous and fine?
And yet I believe that on a street where too many kids die all the way to the often hollow, hallowed kingdoms of entertainment, the need for healing and hope runs deep. I believe that despair and disease and defeat flow as fast and furiously through the hills as they do down the gutters of the ghetto. I believe that souls are dying in both places: some murders are just more obvious.
The good news is that Jesus comes into that death, and speaks life. The good news is that blindness and slavery can be reversed. The good news is that all who hunger and thirst for life, for life that is authentic and forever and free, can indeed be filled.
|Erika Haub has recently relocated to her hometown of Seattle with her husband, Douglas, and three children after almost seven years church-planting in South Central, L.A. She holds an MDiv from Fuller Seminary and currently serves as the Associate Pastor at Shoreline Covenant Church. She is trying to remember how to live in the rain.|