It has been my custom, for many years, to invite the congregation to renew their covenant with God through Christ on the first Sunday of each new year. We did so at NBUMC as 2022 unfolded. Part of the liturgy has been brought back to mind this week with the horrific acts of racially motivated violence in Buffalo and CA. Prior to renewing the covenant, we are invited to recommit ourselves to Christ. Part of the liturgy reads:
Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him.
Christ has many services to be done.
Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful.
Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both…
In the midst of the violence and hatred, it is hard not to be caught up in it. It is difficult to keep our eyes upon Jesus. I desperately want to smite the smiters. This is the difficult part of our walk in faith. Yet Jesus instructs us, “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go the second mile…You have heard it said that you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, But I say, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…(Mt. 5.38-41;43-44 NRSV).
So, there it is. We are called to love. We are called to no longer be children, blown about by people’s trickery, deceit, and craftiness. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow to Christian maturity (Ephesians 4.14-15 paraphrased). The events of this week have reminded me just how difficult it is to be loving mature people of faith when it seems as though the wheels have simply come off. I really want to repay evil with evil, even though such behavior is anathema to following Jesus (Ro. 12.17).
This week is proving to be a gut-check for faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus, keep the ears of your heart tuned to the urgings of the Holy Spirit, walk with and encourage one another, love your neighbor as your self, refuse to be lowered to the base standards of our culture…somebody has to be the grown-up in the room. May it be us.
I am proud of the saints at NBUMC and know we can be the people God in Christ has called us to be.
See you Sunday,
Paul To respond directly to Pastor Paul, email him at email@example.com, or contact him at 816-724-0080