Pastor's Blog

A Lament Over the City April 25, 2016

A Lament Over the City
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!  … How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. 
                                                --Matthew 23:37

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and wept in lament over its hard-heartedness and its leaders’ unwillingness to welcome him, the incarnation of God’s love and grace.

There are so many of us who are weeping in lament today over our city and state, in the hard-hearted actions that have made discrimination against some of God’s children the new law of the land.  Surely Christ is weeping with us, as he sees some of our leaders and people – including people of faith – being unwilling to welcome as full citizens with equal rights to housing, jobs, services and fair treatment persons of different sexual orientation as well as people who have been discriminated against because of age, race or gender.

Much has been said and written about this law that was introduced, discussed, passed and signed into law in only twelve hours.  I won’t rehash all that now.  However, so many of you have asked me what our response should be, that I thought it would be helpful to reflect on the issues as United Methodist people.

The Introduction to our Social Principles in the UM Book of Discipline says, “Secure in God’s love, we affirm the goodness of life and confess our many sins against God’s will for us as we find it in Jesus Christ… We have been reluctant followers of Jesus Christ in his mission to bring all persons into a community of love.  Though called by the Holy Spirit to become new creatures in Christ, we have resisted the further call to become the people of God in our dealings with each other and the earth on which we live…  Grateful for God’s forgiving love, in which we live and by which we are judged, and affirming our belief in the inestimable worth of each individual, we renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the gospel, not alone to the ends of the earth, but also to the depths of our common life and work… We commit ourselves to stand united in declaring our faith that God’s grace is available to all, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  In that confidence, we pledge to continue to be in respectful dialogue with those with whom we disagree, to explore the sources of our differences, to honor the sacred worth of all persons, and to tell the truth about our divisions as we continue to seek the mind of Christ and to do the will of God in all things.”
 
We live in a time of rapid social change and still-evolving understandings of human sexuality and identity, and we are not completely of one mind at this point.  Wisdom continues to seek understanding.  However, the struggle for equality, fairness, justice, and civil rights for all is not new.  From our past experience, we all know that when any part of our community is discriminated against, we all suffer and our community is not whole, healthy, or all that God wants it to be.  We also know that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to put love into action – to be the incarnation of his love and grace, especially for those who have been excluded.

Dilworth Church has always been a community of faith that is open and welcoming to all people.  It has always been a church that is engaged in the city – that cares about the community around us.  Let us be that church now.  We can hold up a vision of a state and city that rise above fear, exclusion and discrimination, and encourage more people to pursue that vision.  We can affirm that all people are of sacred worth, created in the image of God.  We can and should engage in conversation within the church to continue to grow in our own understanding and seek the mind of Christ together.  There is a growing number of people at Dilworth Church who want to form a group to work on issues of inclusion and reconciliation.  Would you like to be part of that group?  If so, let Bobbi Sundeen or Kari Dalton know.  And let us all commit again to be a sign of Christ’s love for the world in every way we can.  How our city and state need that now!

                                Grace and peace, Pastor Karen
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