November 8, 2020
I have felt the need to have a little bit of a pastoral word with us, and I’ve felt it for a while. And now, especially, not just the election, but the election, along with the continued pandemic, and along with the racial unrest of our time, all of this together has created a bit of a challenging environment for the church.
And so, first of all, I want to encourage us, with regard to the election, to remember – and actually with regard to all of these things – to remember that we are sisters and brothers. And that our primary belonging as followers of Jesus is abiding in Jesus and in Jesus’ kingdom. And from that place, then, to be growing in peacefulness so that we are a peaceful presence. And, I think I say this a lot, but I’m asking you to pause for a moment and grasp that as Jesus’ disciples, we have a unique charism to offer the world.
And for us not to let anything get in the way of that, especially not the contentiousness of our times. The world needs us. It needs us as a peaceful presence, and it needs us to lead by our example of humility and meekness and compassion.
In the presence of fear and uncertainty and confusion, people tend to react and we tend to pontificate and we tend not to listen, but just to declare our view of the truth. As followers of Jesus, we can be different in the midst of that.
For 16 years it has been my intentional intentionality not to invite us into politics that are divisive and not to take up any agenda or issue in a divisive way. At this time, especially, I want to say that this is immensely difficult. Because with all the contentiousness around us, almost anything I or our team says has the potential of being co-opted by someone’s perspective and turned into something politicized and divisive.
I want us to understand something about Jesus’ example. I’m asking us to hear this carefully. Virtually every page of the gospels in your Bible, Jesus is doing one or more of these things:
modeling love of enemy;
modeling nonviolent response to evil;
embracing the marginalized;
confronting religious establishment practices that exclude people;
confronting religious hypocrisy;
advocacy for the economically oppressed;
advocacy for the inclusion of foreigners;
advocacy for women;
advocacy for the mentally challenged;
and the inclusion of sinners.
So here’s the thing, if we’re going to follow – especially as preachers and pastors and leaders of Saint Barnabas – if we’re going to follow Jesus’ example, it will be easy for that to be politicized or turned into something divisive when we don’t intend it to be.
To be involved in the challenges of our time is our calling.
Our invitation, please hear me, our invitation is to abide in Jesus and then to be sent, not to abide in Jesus and never go out into the world as Jesus’ presence. We’re not to be sequestered. We’re to be sent.
And so I ask you to hear me as your pastor. As we engage the topics of our time, help us. Help us by not hearing us as intending to politicize or be divisive … but rather as intending to be human and profoundly spiritual, following Jesus’ example of being in the world as a peaceful presence of God, just as our collect of the day said this morning, to destroy the works of the devil.
And so in that light, I want to pray for our country, from our Prayer Book:
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen … Amen … Amen.
The Rev. Jim Clark
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