Dear flock, we have just come through a wrenching election season of making choices about our future as a nation, a state, and a community. Today is the day that the result of those choices begins to be seen and to affect our lives. I know that for some, the election results give you reason to celebrate. For others, the results have caused great sadness and fear. I write first of all to ask us all to join together in prayer for our country, that God will act in this moment to draw us together in humility, understanding of one another, respect, and unity. Regardless of how we voted, let us not choose to embrace the demeaning language, divisive attitudes, insulting behavior, and hostility toward others that we saw so often from candidates and their followers. We are better than that. We are called to live differently than that.
Second, I write to remind us all that we have a higher allegiance than to a candidate, a party, or even to a nation. We are above all, children of God, citizens of the kingdom of God, and followers of Jesus Christ. As such, we are called to be salt and light in this world, to offer grace and hope and love and peace in the name of Christ, and to put our trust in God, the ruler of the universe rather than in any human leader or institution. We may or may not have gotten the elected leaders we wanted, but we have a choice: to live in a way that pleases God, to love as God loves, to work for justice and mercy and peace, and to heal and improve the world around us in every way we can. We still have that choice every day.
I am also writing to encourage you with the truth: Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble and face opposition. “But take courage,” he said; “I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33) There is nothing on earth that can happen that Christ’s love and grace and life cannot overcome. There is nothing at all that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:38-39) The Lord who loves us will never leave us nor forsake us. Therefore we of all people are people of hope. Choose hope.
Finally, we have another choice: whether to gather together as God’s people – as Christ’s body in the world – each week to worship. Some of us show up for worship in order to socialize with our friends. If our friends won’t be there, then we won’t either. Some come to worship out of habit. It becomes something to check off our to-do list each week and makes us feel good about ourselves. Many of us choose to worship only if and when the music or the liturgy or the topic or the style suits our preferences – or when we or our children are scheduled to participate in some way. And some of us choose to worship when it’s convenient – there’s no Panthers game or we aren’t tired from the work week or we haven’t found something better or more fun to do. Which of those choices are the right choice? None of the above.
The reason to choose to worship God together with your community of faith is that God loves you and wants to commune with you – have your full attention for at least one hour every week; God wants to speak to you, to remind you of who you are, whose you are, and what you are called to do and be; and God wants to strengthen you for the week ahead, by reminding you that you are surrounded by loving brothers and sisters who share your faith and commitment to Christ. We are all part of something much, much bigger than ourselves: the Church, which has withstood persecution and wars and dictatorships and pandemics and trouble of every kind, and which will prevail until the end of time. Now especially is a time when we need weekly worship to calm our fears, help us hear truth, fill us with hope, reconnect us to our purpose, and prepare us to be agents of God’s grace.
So take heart, beloved of God. Choose each day to be a sign of Christ’s love for the world. Choose each Sunday to gather with Christ’s church to worship. And remember the One in whom we trust. I’ll see you on Sunday. Grace and peace, Pastor Karen