Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Can You Hear Me Now?

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about events of the past week. Now, I’m not taking any kind of position here, just wanted to share something I’ve been mulling over. First, we had the inauguration of President Trump. There are a lot of reasons that people give for why he is now our president. I’ve come to a personal conclusion that one of those reasons is that people didn’t take his candidacy seriously. People laughed about him running for president and made jokes about those who supported him. Now he had his share of flaky people at his rallies and unfortunately that was where the media focused. Flaky candidate, flaky supporters, big joke; only they won.

Second, we had the Women’s March. So what does the media focus on here, the flakes and they had their share. When you only focus on the flakes, then it is so much easier to write them off and make them a big joke. Every movement, every protest, every march has flakes in their midst. I’ve been in enough protests and marches to know. But, it would be as much a mistake to try and write them off as it was to try and write President Trump and his people off as a joke.
Those who wrote off Trump as a bad joke made a grave mistake. Those who write off those who participated in the Women’s March and their concerns do so at their own peril. This is not to say that is a matter of agreeing with either camp, but if we don’t at least give one another a serious hearing, we are in error. The concerns and complaints of Trump’s supporters weren’t taken seriously, if they were heard at all and now he is the President. Will the Trump camp make the same mistake themselves? Will they disregard millions? I just think we need to try to listen, without trying to formulate a response before we’ve heard them out. Good luck pretending that either will disappear.
Proverbs 18:13   
To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.
James 1:19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Praying for Those in Authority

Today the United States of America is inaugurating a new President. One of the amazing things I love about my country is this smooth and peaceful transition of power. I know many are boycotting watching the inauguration or even listening to news about it. I won’t be one of those, because I find the whole event as such a powerful statement of who we are as a nation, the leaders of often opposing ideologies cordially great one another and their families to pass the baton of leadership.

There was moment that is engraved in my memory of the 2008 inauguration, when President Obama was being sworn in and President Bush was leaving office. There was a moment when the two men shook hands and embraced. It wasn’t one of those hugs that you see after a game when opponents congratulate each other. It seemed like a cross between the sincerity of passing a heavy burden and responsibility, knowing the toll it takes, and a blessing. No longer were they adversaries of different political parties, but more like brothers who share something few ever understand. At least that is how I’ll always see it.

At every church I have pastored, we have a congregational prayer time, where we receive prayer requests for specific concerns. One thing that I always include is a prayer for those in positions of authority; in government, in the church, and on our jobs. We have been praying for President Obama for the past eight years, as we have for presidents before him. We will now be praying for President Trump.

It is my belief that, as Christians, we are called to do just this. I do not see it as an option.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,

and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority;

that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour"

(I Timothy 2:1-3).

A few years back, we had a visitor at Shiloh UMC, where I am currently pastor, who approached me after service. He said that he couldn’t pray for our current president and administration. I simply told him that I didn’t think that you could be obedient to scripture and do that. He smiled, walked out of the church, and never came back. Many mistake “praying for” with “agreeing with” and that isn’t how it works.

We are called to pray for our enemies, as well as those we like or who are of like minds with us. We’re called to pray out the love that has been poured out on us. It doesn’t call on us to agree with them or to approve of immoral, unethical acts. In our praying we’re not to turn a blind eye to injustice or hate. But, we are called to walk in love and pray for them. As the man who visited the church, many will disagree, but I continue to pray for those in authority.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Where ya' been?

Yeah, I know it has been awhile since I posted anything and I apologize profusely if there's anyone that really cares. The fact is that I'd like to get back doing this just so I can have a point of expression and getting my thoughts together. I'll probably be doing some reviewing, sharing some stuff that is way past due and some more current.

I am no longer appointed to the Mount Airy Charge as their pastor, though we do stay in touch. Joanne and I continue going to The White Fall Farm Pumpkin Hunt every October, where we get to see many of our folks from the three churches on the charge.

This is now my fifth year as pastor of Shiloh UMC in Lynchburg VA. When Joanne and I were dating and attending Shiloh, it was a little country church. Now, it is still a little country church, but in the middle of businesses and urban sprawl.

Shiloh UMC, 18121 Forest Rd, Lynchburg VA 24502

Shiloh UMC is the church that Joanne grew up attending. It is also the church where Joanne and I were married in 1971. We walked in the door this time having family and friends who already attend.

 A lot has happened since we've been here and I hope to share some of that with you. We have a great congregation that is amazingly hospitable and welcoming.

Joanne and I now have six grandchildren, with a possible seventh. More on that later. We love them all dearly and just don't get to see them often enough. Maybe retirement will resolve some of that.

Our daughter, Courtney, and her Husband, Dave Harrington have (left to right) Thomas, Levi, Taisie, and Lila. The Harrington crew live in New York state, where Dave is the pastor of Community Gospel Church. Joanne and I got to spend Christmas with them this year.

Jeremiah and Kate have Leah and Jeremiah. They live just outside of Lynchburg, up on a mountain, where they have bees and chickens.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. If I get to talking too much about the church and family I may just overstay me welcome. I'll try to do better this time and keep a regular schedule of posting. As always, I appreciate your support and comments.