Reminder: This Thursday, July 7, Jim Barry and I will be at Acorn, 15 Henry Thomas Dr (in City Park, connected to the children’s museum) from 10am-12pm for follow-up conversation on sharing gospel with LGBTQ+ people. Drop by and join us for coffee and refreshments.
Happy Independence Day!
Last week at the Wednesday evening Table Talk conversations we talked about what it means to be a good citizen. We read the beginning of Romans, which is about obeying the governing authorities. We deliberated on how to do that, as well as how to know when we are in a situation that requires acting differently. This, of course, led to a discussion about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and his courageous decision in Nazi Germany to work against Hitler, even to the point of plotting an assassination and being killed himself.
We talked about how polarized our country has become and admitted that most of us have family members with whom we do not have conversations about anything that can be considered remotely political. Only one person in our group of 13 said that his family is good at these conversations.
It would be fair to say that the conversation has been percolating in my mind since. I have thought about this issue for years. It’s never been easy to talk about things that we disagree on, and it has become noticeably more difficult in the past 15 years. We agreed that we need to get better at this for the sake of our country. We didn’t have answers, but know that it has something to do with taking risks and studying scripture and being willing to speak the truth as we see it with humility and love.
The day after our honest and searching conversation at Grace, our next door neighbors hung a flag from the top of their roof making fun of the current president of the United States.
The flag is higher than codes allow and is offensive. Perhaps the worst thing about it is that these neighbors cannot see it from their backyard, but it dominates the view from our yard and that of a few others. It’s clear that they aren’t flying it for themselves, but to make a point to us and some of our neighbors.
I don’t know how to handle it. Knock on their door and invite conversation? Write them a letter? Call codes enforcement? Bake them some cookies and pray for them? Monitor my own blood pressure and let it go?
This past Sunday, we sang “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” in worship at Grace. It’s always been my favorite of the popular national songs, for it celebrates “purple mountain majesties” and other things for which I give daily thanks. Today I am thinking about its closing lines, and praying that I, and we, will be part of the solution:
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
I love this country and know that I am fortunate to have been born here. Even so, we are living with a world of hurt right now, and deep divisions keep us from going forward. A mass shooting at a 4th of July parade yesterday strains my already strained spirit.
One of the jobs of a pastor is to remind the people of hope. That takes me to the scriptures.
Today it has me repeating some words from the 124th Psalm, words that I will meditate on daily this week and trust that God will use them to change me. I invite you to join me in drawing on their ancient truth:
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Grace and peace,
Don’t forget that I have coffee hours every week:
Tuesdays from 8-10am at Morning Call at the corner of Canal and City Park Ave.
Wednesdays from 12-2pm at Nolabeans at 762 Harrison Ave.