JOIN US FOR WORSHIP
THIS SUNDAY, NOV 13th, 2016
8:45 A.M. TRADITIONAL WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY
(traditional worship with a more intimate atmosphere, includes special music and sermon)
10:00 A.M. TRADITIONAL WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY
(traditional worship with special music and preaching, including a children’s moment)
11:15 A.M. THE OPEN DOOR AT BUSKIRK-CHUMLEY THEATER
(contemporary, informal worship with preaching and children’s moment)
Living with Unexpected Outcomes
When the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7, on November 3rd, reality shifted for fans of the baseball club from the north side of Chicago. Lovable losers who always fell short, now Cubs fans had to figure out how to live with a new story…as World Champions. (We’re still trying to figure out how to live this new story…where the Cubs are winners!)
When Donald Trump was elected President, on November 8th, it appears to have been a reality-shifting moment for many Americans. Some hope to celebrate a return to an earlier chapter when America was great, while other citizens are fearful the election is sign our nation is about to retreat from the dream of a republic with liberty and justice for all. Does the election announce a return to basic common sense in governance, or is this a self-destructive moment when we as a nation have swerved dangerously in the direction of authoritarian government fueled by fear?
Preachers are well-advised to tread cautiously when they address issues and moments in political life, but this is a moment when I believe you deserve your pastor’s best effort to bring some faith perspective to this unexpected outcome.
GOD IS STILL GOD
Baseball teams wins and lose, elections are held and legislators are sworn in, and God is still God. The Bible begins with the phrase “When God began to create” and it ends with the promise that Jesus is coming soon.
In the birth account of Jesus, Luke notes that Caesar Augustus was emperor of Rome and Quirinius was governor of Syria, but those rulers were far less important than what God was doing in an out of the way place called Bethlehem.
God is still God. Go outside and look up at the stars and the moon. Read the story of God’s faithfulness through the books of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
WE ARE ONE BODY
A common theme in this election has been the story of a nation divided. Candidates often campaign by stirring up fear between groups. Rather than being one nation, undivided, we have been broken down into population segments. We are told there is a white America, a black America, and a Hispanic America. We are told there is urban America, exurb America, and rural America.
The truth is that we are, down deep, still one nation. Our destiny depends on our recognition of this. If newly elected officials forget this, they will dishonor the republic and cause great harm. Persons and groups must not be disrespected because of the color of their skin, their faith, or their sexual identity. People on “the coasts” can’t dismiss their fellow citizens who live in “flyover country” and people in the Plains States can’t write off the “East Coast and West Coast elites.” Some political observers are suggesting the progressive left lost sight of those in rural areas, in places like Youngstown, Muncie, and Akron where communities are suffering from globalization and the information economy.
Paul says we are all connected (Romans 12:5). We are different parts of one body.
THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE
As someone who grew up in the middle of the civil rights struggle, there has been much to celebrate over the last quarter of a century. Some of my nieces and nephews, who are black, have said “things never change” but things have changed.
These election results, though, confirm that there is much work to do…for all of us. There are pockets of poverty and economic depression, and we must work for an economy that provides opportunity to all people. There continues to be a vein of racism and bigotry running through the bedrock of our society. There continues to be pressure to roll back the gains made by racial minorities, women, gays and lesbians, etc. There continues to be temptation to embrace nationalism in a way that would unsettle world peace.
The work is not done. There is still much we must do to create a “more perfect union.” The idea of liberty and justice for all is still a radical and controversial dream. We hear people openly questioning that dream, and to those who have taken the dream for granted the election may be a wake-up call.
YEAST, SALT AND LIGHT
I believe that the election—not so much the Cubs victory—is a call for the Jesus community (aka “the church”) to step up and be the agent for change and new life God always intended it to be.
Jesus came to give the world a truth through the church that even he acknowledges cuts like a two-edged sword. In Matthew 5:12-ff., Jesus tells his early community that they are to be God’s salt (seasoning & preservative) on the earth and it is to be “the light of the world.”
The Galilean, in Matthew 13:33, likens the kingdom of heaven to yeast that is worked all the way through the dough.
So we are to be a community that prays for and works for truth. We are to be a community that prays for and works for justice. We are to be a community that prays for and works for a world seasoned with faith, shaped by the Spirit of the God who made all things, loves us enough to give his Son for us, and promises always to be at work for good.
Several months ago I read an article about families that once lived in lighthouses, dealing with the isolation and hardship so they could maintain and fuel the light. Maybe the election is a reminder that we, in the church, are keepers of God’s lighthouse. It isn’t easy work to keep the light of love, the light of justice, the light of community, the light of faith burning in a world where there is always the temptation to be guided by fear, hatred of the other, and selfishness.
But we are called to be God’s “salt and light” show. We are a community called to be God’s agents through whom God works to do great and beautiful good.
The New Testament calls us to pray for our leaders, that is what you and I are called to do this morning and every morning: pray for our leaders. Pray for the ones we supported and the ones we did not support.
Even the best and brightest find leadership hard work. Leadership often looks easy to those who seldom have that role placed upon them, but leadership is often a heavy thing.
I am convinced that our prayers, encouragement and honest feedback help our leaders, whether in business, education, sports, religion or politics, be stronger and better.
Pray that our leaders will lead with wisdom, thoughtfulness, kindness, faith, compassion, humility, and courage. Pray that they will listen to their better angels, and have the courage to do the right thing even if it is difficult. Pray that they will see themselves as stewards of the dream of liberty and justice for all.
This Sunday you’ll want to be in worship to welcome Pastor Stacee back to the pulpit!
On Saturday, I will be at a small church in northern Indiana leading the funeral service for Lois Weigand, widow of the late Reverend Tom Weigand. Tom was my DS years ago, and Lois was an amazing, faithful, graceful woman.
On Sunday, I will be preaching the stewardship Sunday message at Elkhart Trinity. The pastor there is a good friend, and Tim has asked me to come back for their celebration. Pray for me as I head back to do my best to bless the congregation after having been gone for six years.
A NONE-SENSE FAITH
Join us in worship this Sunday as we continue our series exploring “A None-Sense Faith.” What kind of faith community will speak to the needs of those who have little use for organized religion but who are spiritually hungry?
You’ll want to be in worship as welcome the Reverend Stacee Fischer Gehring back to the pulpit at 8:45/10 (Sanctuary) and 11:15 (The Open Door)
Note: you haven’t yet turned in your Pledge Form for 2017, please show your love for God by turning your financial promise in this week. You can pick up a form at the doors of the Sanctuary or in the office, or simply go on-line to www.fumcb.org/pledge2017