Crosses burned in Shamokin

(The following was presented for publication as a letter to the editor after a recent cross burning incident in Shamokin)

The Coal Region has a rich history of hard work, sacrifice and perseverance. There is also a historic melding of many cultures. Immigrants from as many as 26 distinct people groups came together in the Anthracite region to work as hard as any people have ever worked to make a life for themselves, and they did it with a high degree of acceptance and cooperation against all odds.
That heritage is being threatened, if the most recent reports of cross burnings on a local culm bank prove true. The recent influx of African-Americans and Latinos has caused anxiety, and some appear to be taking matters into their own hands. That has never worked too well here in America, as we continue to live down our history of lynchings, the KKK shenanigans, Jim Crow laws and more. We had a short spell of skinhead activity in our area in the late 90’s that produced nothing good.
This should be a wakeup call especially for the church. It was crosses that they burned! That is an affront to God and to His church. We are in a battle for our community. If we fail to be salt and light then the darkness will prevail, whether it is coming from intruding gang members, or from an angry native populace. We must be vigilant in prayer as well as good works and vocal opposition to evil.
The church must break loose from the paralyzing delusion that nothing has changed. Many churches continue to function as they did 50 years ago without recognizing that the local culture has been in a death spiral. If we do not actively engage everyone who will listen with the life changing message of Jesus Christ then the church in this community will become more and more irrelevant with each passing year.
It is plain…
Matthew 5:13-16 (MSG)
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
We can do better, we must do better. The world waits.
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