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Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Pastor’s Message: Jan. 25, 2021

We are almost a month into a new year and, in many ways, it seems 2021 wants to be the second verse same as the first. The pandemic numbers have been climbing. New variants of COVID-19 which are more infectious threaten to throw another wrench in our recovery process. This has delayed our ability to return to our campus for worship. Violent insurrectionists stormed the nation’s capitol building, at least partially in response to months, if not years, of disinformation, and sought to overturn a democratic election. Now, protestors in the West continue to create violent destruction because the nation’s new president is not progressive enough for them. Meanwhile, those political leaders and media outlets given to sensationalism and/or driving fear and outrage continue to do what they do as if the consequences of their actions do not matter.

Where is our hope for a new day? A new world? A new life?

I think our hope is in following the way of Jesus Christ. The one anointed the beloved Son at his baptism calls us to follow as he did Andrew and Simon, James and John, and all those who came after in the way of love, or as we said yesterday, “holiness for the sake of the world,” as Dr. Elaine Heath phrases it in The Mystic Way of Evangelism.

This holiness is one of total surrender to God and to serving our neighbors in need. It is a way that transcends categories of left, right, and center. It transcends hate-filled rhetoric that seeks to create a dualism depicting one group as purely good and the other as purely evil making it easier to seek the harm of those who are not like us. It transcends rich and poor. It transcends White, Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous. It transcends cisgender and LGBTQ+. It transcends native citizen, naturalized citizen, documented immigrant, and undocumented immigrant.

It transcends these by offering reconciliation and recompense rather than vengeance and retribution. It transcends vengeance and retribution not by pretending harms did not happen but by offering the opportunity for repentance for the forgiveness of sins we receive in our baptism along with the Holy Spirit. This offer seeks to transform relationships creating harm into those of mutual love and compassion, rather than seeking half-hearted apologies and pretending the harms did not occur. It holds accountable without condemning remembering no one, even ourselves, is beyond redemption.

I know these are hard words. They speak of transformation, a fancy word for the thing we all struggle with the most: change. Change comes difficult because our routines, our beliefs, our presumptions, are so ingrained in us from before we even realized anything could be thus ingrained. And, if I admit anything I have held so dear throughout my life does harm, what does that mean about everything else I hold dear? What does that mean about those who loved me and raised me and taught me? Yet, again, life is more complex than dualisms of purely good and purely evil.

I also know it is hard because we may not agree on what needs to change or how it needs to change. This does not mean we cannot walk together in discipleship, seeking, by God’s grace, to grow in holiness for the sake of the world. For we will challenge one another. Sharpen one another. After all, holiness does not just happen. It grows with time and intentionality as we embrace the full potential of God’s grace for our lives.

So may we embrace holiness and surrender ourselves fully to God and neighbor. It will reveal the good news of the Reign of God to me, you, and all creation.

Grace and peace,

Rev. J.D. Allen
Senior Pastor

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I wish above all things that you may know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for you.