In times of great polarity and division, there will be moments that we collectively experience when it is incumbent upon me to speak. Our nation watched with bated breath to hear the verdict against Derek Chauvin. We watched to see if justice and accountability would be a reality or a dream deferred. And we all watched with different lenses and filters and interpretations. Bob Dylan famously opined that “The times they are a-changing.”
The world is changing. For some, it’s moving too fast. The goalposts of expectations seem to change by the hour. Calls for diversity and inclusion sound like exclusion and some may wonder if there will be a place for you in this brave new world. For others, the world isn’t changing fast enough. Some feel haunted by the litany of injustices throughout our nation's history and wonder if you will be next. If your son will be next. If your daughter will be the next hashtag; a temporary memorial soon to be replaced by another poor soul. You feel it in your bones; in your soul.
The times they are a-changing. And here we are. Gathered under this roof. A room full of competing narratives, personal histories, and fears about our safety, fears about our place in the world, fears about the future, anger of being canceled, erased, or silenced; and guilt over our own sin. All of which mingled with deep, deep shame. Shame known and unknown. So different. So often divided. But each and every one of you so deeply loved.
When God called me here to be your pastor, he didn’t call me to pastor a certain age demographic, ethnic group, or political allegiance. He called me to pastor you. To be an instrument of grace, called to present you holy and blameless at his appearing. In these polarized times, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We can rise to the occasion or fail to meet it. We can feel the weight of our impasse. We can reject overly simplistic answers to complex problems. We can focus on the love of those who call this church home. And in our desperation, depend upon the Holy Spirit to lead us to love and honor one another out of deep humility.
Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. ― Etty Hillesum [Auschwitz]
This is the call. A call to mortification. A call to die. Die to self. Die to preference. And live unto Christ Jesus and his call upon us to BE JESUS to one another. There will be some who opt to divest from this mission and choose another road. But for the intrepid and all who dare venture, we have an opportunity to see revival and renewal.