Are You Ready Not to Fear Tomorrow’s Headline? (a parable for the coffee shop crowd)

Every morning the people of the village gathered in the coffee house
For bread
For coffee
To discuss the news of the day.
Sitting round with their steaming brew, each fired up their morning news for headlines
to consume and to share.
Every one with his preferred device,
smartphone or tablet,
laptop or e-reader,
occasionally a traditionalist with a paper or watching the screen on the wall.
The flavor of the delivery varied,
the channel, the address, the tone
but they devoured essentially the same news.
All but for one older couple
notable for nothing, really,
for the were not even old enough to merit awe for long life,
nor were they distinguishable for their wealth or talent or dress.
They were only notable in that their first headline of each day
came from a different source,
an ancient text,
one that others in the room dismissed as irrelevant to their times
or so they had been told.
“Aren’t you curious about the news, old man?” some would ask.
“Old woman, have you no interest in what’s happening today?”
“Priorities,” the man replied.
The woman nodded, “Yes, but, first things.”
And they proceeded to consume a different bread
as others felt their bread turn to stone in their bellies
the headlines of the day disturbing to both
their mental state and their appetites.
Every morning, different names, but the same stories scrolled across their devices.
A murder here.
A war there.
Stocks are up.
Stocks are down.
Missing children, missing planes, missing funds, missing morals.
Warnings about food or drugs or products or habits,
even against the coffee they sipped and the bread they ate.
And it weighed them down,
wore them out,
creased their brows
and wrinkled their faces
until even the young appeared older than the old woman and her man.
But still the couple studied the headlines of the ancient text,
ate their bread,
and sipped their coffee
Sharing with one another, nodding and earnest in quiet conversation
about old, old stories and words spoken long before any generation in the room.
And as they read,
they grew stronger,
sat taller,
their shoulders relaxed, and their faces shining with a sort of energy
and light –
brighter than the reflection of the tablets around.
At last, a girl with a smartphone, could take it no longer.
The news of the day being more than she could bear
and seeing the couple absorbed in ancient words
angered her.
“Stop it! Stop it!” she cried. “Look up from that book that means nothing to me
and see what we are seeing! Then you won’t smile and eat. Then you won’t sit there calmly together. Why should you escape while we face the truth of our day?”
The couple looked first at one another, speaking with their eyes.
Then they looked at the young woman, loving her,
and the others who had stopped their media consumption to stare at the couple – now waiting.
“All right,” said the woman. “Tell us your news but then, let us tell you ours.”
“Fine,” said the girl, “Once you hear what’s really happening, you’ll forget that old news anyway.”
And she showed the couple what she was seeing –
the carnage, battered babies, corrupt leaders, hijacked religions, and crimes fueled by hatred.
“There,” she said weeping, “there is the truth of our day. Now you see as we see and you, too, will mourn and weep.”
She looked up and saw the couple was weeping.
Great tears running down their cheeks,
but the look on their faces wasn’t distress.
It was something else,
a softness directed at her hard words – an openness rare among the people in the room.
The young woman felt something shift inside so she gripped her hardness for balance and scowled at the couple, “Now, we all know the truth of what is happening in our times.”
The man replied, “Perhaps. But only two of us know the whole truth.”
“What do you mean?” she asked and others leaned in to hear his reply.
“You know the headlines, true. But do you know what they mean?” he said.
“No one knows that,” she answered.
“Not true. The writers of this ancient text explained it full well,” he said with eyes full of hope.
“And, do you know what headlines will come next?” asked the woman.
Now, a gentleman about their age slammed his laptop shut and said, “That’s nonsense. No one knows what is to come.”
“Not true,” replied the woman. “The author of this ancient text knew our day would arrive. Listen to this:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.”*
And here: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”**
“And,” said the man, “do you know how not to fear the next headline?”
“That is here, too,” the woman said.
Now a crowd gathered round the couple with the ancient text.
“Tomorrow,” asked the girl, “will you read to us and tell us more about the headlines we hear?”
The couple nodded. “We’ll read from the text and tell you more than what you hear from the headlines.
“Oh,” the couple added, “you can access these ancient words with your devices, too.”
And the coffeeshop fell silent except for the sound of smartphones clicking
and hearts opening.
*2 Timothy 3:1-5a
** Matthew 24: 6-8

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    The Conversation

  1. gshogren says:

    Thanks very much. Does it strike you that Christians are more afraid, outraged, anxious and – yes – hateful in the last decade? It’s very simplistic of me, but I blame the conservative media.

    ALSO – email me your mailing address if you want, let me see if I can get some REAL coffee to you, from the mountain right near our house in Costa Rica.

  2. I would love that! And yes, I’m very convicted that as believers we need to stop responding and calling for action from a place of fear.

  3. mark says:

    I love the piece, but I have discovered that there is a growing peace and confidence which does not need to resort to hateful, judgemental words and Caustic comments, but has decided to let the love of God do its work of reconciliation, of transformation, or redemption and rescue.
    See this for a real Godly response.

    • I’m glad you love the piece, Mark, and I don’t believe I’m known for resorting to hateful, judgemental words and caustic comments. Please let me know if you find these in my work. God’s love at all times grounded in the truth of His word.

  4. Gail says:

    Loved this with all my heart! Thank you!

  5. Asher says:

    Thanks Lori, that was great. I had a feeling things would work out with priorities like that! – Asher –

  6. Thanks for this great read! I really enjoyed it, and personally didn’t see anything caustic in it at all!