June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
I know I have blind spots.
 
I know my life experiences have shaped and defined the way I view the world.
 
I know I instinctively believe that the way I view the world is right, and that other ways of seeing the world are “less well thought through.”
 
I know I had a head start in life because of the color of my skin.
 
I know as much as I might try to understand or empathize with what it’s like to be part of a minority culture, I’ll never be able to fully get it.
 
I know I don’t understand what it’s like to go through life knowing that some people still see you as defective or inferior because you have a different amount of melanin in your skin.
 
I know I never felt the need to explain to my children how to respond properly to a police officer, because I never feared that an encounter with a law enforcement official might put their life in danger.
 
I know I’ve never been aware of someone following me through a store because they thought I looked suspicious. 
 
I know it’s pretty unlikely that anyone has ever seen me walking toward them and felt threatened somehow by my presence.
 
I know what happened to George Floyd was evil.
 
I know that smashing store windows and setting police cars on fire is not the right response.
 
I know I am prone to spend more time reading and listening to the views of people with whom I agree than I am to listen to and try to better understand the people with whom I disagree. 
 
I know finding common ground takes a lot more effort than living inside the echo chamber.
 
I know that structural changes can help, but until hearts change, nothing really changes for long.
 
I know the gospel is the answer to the issues we face in life.  I agree with Larry Crabb who says “If you don’t think the gospel is the answer, you haven’t understood the problem correctly.”
 
I know that Jesus is our peace, and that He breaks down the dividing walls that separate us.
 
I know that in Him, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, red, yellow, black, brown or white, but that all are one.
 
I know that one day all things will be made new and injustice and unrighteousness will be no more.
 
I know I am to pray every day “on earth as it is in heaven.”
 
I know I keep finding myself praying “Search me, O God.  Know my heart.  See if there be any grievous way in me.  And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
 
I know I have blind spots. 

I know Jesus can open blind eyes.
 
Last year, I had the chance to have a meal with Douglas McKelvey.  Doug lives in Nashville and is an author, a song lyricist, scriptwriter and video director.  He was in Little Rock to talk about his book Every Moment Holy, which is a collection of prayers and liturgies designed to remind us that God is at work in the everyday events of life.  You can listen to the three interviews I did with him on the subject here.     
 
Doug has posted on-line a liturgy for times of widespread suffering.  We are living in one of those times.  Here’s how he invites all of us to think and pray about this current moment:
 
Christ Our King,
 
Our world is overtaken by unexpected calamity, and by a host of attending fears, worries, and insecurities.
 
We witness suffering, confusion, and hardship multiplied around us, and we find ourselves swept up in these same anxieties and troubles, dismayed by so many uncertainties.
 
Now we turn to you, O God, in this season of our common distress.
 
Be merciful, O Christ, to those who suffer, to those who worry, to those who grieve, to those who are threatened or harmed in any way by this upheaval. Let your holy compassions be active throughout the world even now— tending the afflicted, comforting the brokenhearted, and bringing hope to many who are hopeless.
 
Use even these hardships to woo our hearts nearer to you, O God.
 
Indeed, O Father, may these days of disquiet become a catalyst for conviction and repentance, for the tendering of our affections, for the stirring of our sympathies, for the refining of our love.
 
We are your people, who are called by you,
 
We need not be troubled or alarmed.
 
Indeed, O Lord, let us love now more fearlessly, remembering that you created us, and appointed us to live in these very places, in the midst of these unsettled times.
 
It is no surprise to you that we are here now, sharing in this turmoil along with the rest of our society, for you have called your children to live as salt and light among the nations, praying and laboring for the flourishing of the communities where we dwell, acting as agents of your forgiveness, salvation, healing, reconciliation, and hope, in the very midst of an often-troubled world.
 
And in these holy vocations you have not left us helpless, O Lord, because you have not left us at all. Your Spirit remains among us.
 
Inhabit now your church, O Spirit of the Risen Christ. Unite and equip your people for the work before them.
 
Father, empower your children to live as your children. In times of distress let us respond, not as those who would instinctively entrench for our own self-preservation, but rather as those who—in imitation of their Lord—would move in humble obedience toward the needs and hurts of their neighborhoods and communities.
 
You were not ashamed to share in our sufferings, Jesus. Let us now be willing to share in yours, serving as your visible witnesses in this broken world.
 
Hear now these words, you children of God, and be greatly encouraged:
 
The Lord’s throne in heaven is yet occupied, his rule is eternal, and his good purposes on earth will be forever accomplished. So we need never be swayed by the brief and passing panics of this age.
 
You are the King of the Ages, O Christ, and history is held in your Father’s hands.
 
We, your people, know the good and glorious end of this story. Our heavenly hope is secure. In this time of widespread suffering then, let us rest afresh in the surpassing peace of that vision, that your whole church on earth might be liberated to love more generously and sacrificially.
 
Now labor in and through us, O Lord, extending and multiplying the many expressions of your mercy.
 
Amen.
 
From Every Moment Holy:  Death, Grief and Hope
Copyright 2020 Douglas McKelvey
For more information about this liturgy, visit
www.everymomentholy.com 
  _______________________________________________________
 Our six week summer book study of Rebecca McLaughlin’s book  Confronting Christianity begins this Monday night, June 8 at 7:00 pm.  Here again are the details.
 

You can order a copy of the book by clicking the link above.  We’ll plan to read two chapters each week, and you’ll want to have the first two chapters read before our first session.

The study will take place in the worship center so we can maintain appropriate social distancing.  It be an interactive discussion format.  Sadly, that makes live streaming the sessions difficult.  We will capture and post the audio from the sessions, but not everyone will have a microphone, so there may be gaps in the audio as the discussion occurs.   

If you have questions about the study, contact me or Pastor Matt.
_______________________________________________________
Speaking of Pastor Matt, there’s good news this week regarding their son Tucker.  He’s up and walking (with a walker) and transitioning to the rehab area at Children’s Hospital.   Matt and Jen have set up a Caring Bridge site to post updates on his progress.  You can stay up to date by clicking here and signing up for updates.
______________________________________________________
What are you living for?  What matters most to you?  Jesus confronts us with that central issue as He declares that He is the “bread of life come down from heaven.”  We’ll look at what Jesus has to say about priorities in life as we spend time in John 6 this week.

See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

Previous
May 23, 2020

0 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.