PASTOR'S CORNER

  • Two Responses to Violence in Minneapolis

    Below are two Christian responses to the violence in Minneapolis.  First, I share the response of a black pastor and theologian, Dennis R. Edwards. Then I share the response of Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. Two very different people. Both call for justice and peace. Let's all pray.

    DRE-headshot1-scaledEdwards writes: For many of us, anger, sadness, frustration, and fatigue are not episodic responses but chronic conditions. In recent days we’ve all seen, heard, and read of the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, the shooting of Breonna Taylor, the use of the police by a white woman to threaten Christian Cooper, Minneapolis police officers executing George Floyd, and of the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately harms black and brown people. I have been a pastor in Minneapolis, and my heart is heavy as people have taken to the streets to demonstrate against injustice. The videos have helped some white people to see a bit of what many black and brown people know: White America has long had its knee on our necks. I am sure that some who just read that sentence are saying, “Not all of white America.” But that’s the problem. It’s hard for people of color to feel that white America is with us and not against us. White America has not demonstrated the collective resolve to repent, rebuke, and reorient itself against racial injustice. That includes Christians. White Christians can opt out of outrage over racial injustice. The status quo works for them.

    For More go to Christianity Today

    GrahamGraham writes: This makes me sick to my stomach. What took place yesterday on a Minneapolis street, by the Minneapolis Police Department should deeply concern each and every American. It’s inexcusable. To watch a police officer kill an unarmed black man—with no concern on his face, his hand in his pocket, indifferent to the bystanders begging for something to be done to help the man—is so disturbing. He and the other officers on the scene refused to listen and refused to respond. I hope they have deep regret and remorse for their actions. Police are not the judge and jury. These officers will have to stand before God and the authorities on this earth for what they have done.

    Thankfully, this is not the story of every police department. Most men and women who work in law enforcement are tremendous servants who put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities. We need to pray that God will give them wisdom and grace to face the storms that they encounter.

    I hope every police department will learn from this and make the changes needed to never let something like this happen again. Pray for George Floyd’s family, loved ones, and friends, that God will put His loving arms around them and comfort them during this tragedy.

    For more information for to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

  • The Book of Acts

    IMG_1331When you think of the Book of Acts, you’ll remember it as the book of “Ax,” like in this picture from "Walk Thru the Bible." The theme and key word of this book is the Church. Acts was also written by Luke, and he presents volume two of his record of the life and ministry of Jesus. In Acts, the central figures become Christ’s apostles who carry His gospel—His good news—to all people. This book is structured around a key verse (1:8) where Jesus tells the apostles to go to Jerusalem and Judea (the home of the Jews), Samaria (neighboring countries), and even to the ends of the earth (all Gentile peoples). Acts records the spreading of the gospel and the building of the church throughout Asia, lower Europe, and as far west as Rome.

  • Grace For This Day

    Oh, God, give me grace for this day.
    Not for a lifetime, or for next week, nor
    for tomorrow, just for this day.
    Direct my thoughts and bless them,
    Direct my work and bless it.
    Direct the things I say and give them blessing, too.
    Direct and bless everything that I think and speak and do.
    So that for this one day, just this one day,
    I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.

    Grace

  • The Six Foot Dance

    How are you handling the forced isolation? Craig Walker shares a story he calls, HOPING FOR THE SIX FOOT RULE:

    If there is anything that is going to save us during this present crisis, it is the six-foot rule.  They say that we can save thousands of lives if we stay six feet from each other.  I had to go to the post office today. As I drove on the freeway, I was glad to see that most people were observing that rule. Our cars were six feet apart as we drove 65 miles an hour.  I pulled into the parking lot at the post office and found that mine was the only car there.  At the counter there was no one—just a sign saying “ring the bell.”  When I rang it, a post office employee appeared but did not walk up to the counter.  She stopped six feet from me and ask what she could do to help me.  I did bring an N95 mask with me, but forgot and left it on the seat of the car.  She did not have a mask on. Open-2389230_1280

    In my hands I had a package for my sister.  It was a print-out of my memoirs that I have been working on (and off) for the last two years.  During this enforced idleness, I finally have had time to go through it page by page doing the final revision.  It's high time that I did it.  When you turn 80, you don’t have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.  You have a life time of memories that flood in and out.  In order to preserve them for anyone interested, you naturally write them down.  So this was a pretty important package that I was putting into the hands of the United States Postal Service.

    The clerk asked me to step back to the sign and then she stepped up to the counter, exactly six feet away.  She looked at the address, typed in her computer and then asked me to step up to the little monitor on my side and answer the questions, like does the package contain a bomb, etc., etc.  When I stepped up, she stepped back.  Then when I finished, I stepped back and she stepped up and did her thing; then I stepped up to verify the addresses and she stepped back, and then she stepped up and I stepped back.   Then I stepped up to pay and she stepped back, and I stepped back and she stepped up.  It was like a dance of mating Sandhill Cranes that I observed in South Dakota on the banks of the North Platte River, or perhaps like line dancing at a school for the mentally challenged.

    DanceWhen our ballet was finally finished, I thanked her, put my hands over my head in an arch, twirled as though doing a pas de deux and marched out through the empty lobby to my car with the N95 mask waiting faithfully on the seat.  On the way back on the freeway, the cars were once again six feet apart.

    Sitting safely at my computer at home, I turned on the radio and listened to the daily report of the Los Angeles County Supervisors.  They said that out of an abundance of caution, they were closing all hiking trails and tennis courts.  So now the citizens of Los Angeles County will have even less to do doing the isolation.  Instead of going outside and being active, old people will be forced to stay home and write their memoirs.

    Hiking is safe if you are at least six feet apart and the same with tennis.  In fact, often tennis players are more than twenty feet apart. One would hope that they would simply order the six feet rule for those activities and not just mindlessly ban them.  I wonder if the supervisors have thought how unhealthful breathing can be. I hope they don’t outlaw it.  My take is that they are acting out of an abundance of ignorance, not caution.

    Just 24 miles away is Corona, California.  They are taking a bad rap for this coronavirus.  Even before the isolation, business was down.  No one wanted to go to Corona. There were even rumors that that was where the virus started. Mountaineering-99094_1280

    The same false information affected Corona beer. No one wants anything to do with the word Corona.  But on the internet, I read a hopeful blurb that Corona Beer might just cure Corona virus, because the more of it you drink, the better you feel.

  • The Joy of Worship on Zoom

    Tom and Roslyn Dunn recently wrote in our Tidings about the joy of worship on Zoom. If you haven't yet tried worship online, join us this Sunday.

    Tom and roslynEach Sunday morning this spring we’ve attended church. We’ve enjoyed intimate and heartfelt messages and exchanged greetings with our church family members. In recent weeks we sang “Happy Birthday” and shared communion. This past week we shared Memorial Day thoughts about people we miss.  We’ve listened to beautiful, uplifting music. We’ve prayed together The Lord’s Prayer.

    We sat in various places during the service. For us, we choose the family room couch or the dining room table. Regardless of where we sat, we could see and greet everyone.

    Our video-based services have felt real and comforting. They’ve felt more participatory, too —  we’ve felt more involved in the service. We are given opportunities to join in as little or as much as we want to. For those of us who are unable to join a regular service due to our health, the Sunday services have been an important spiritual and social lifeline…We feel God’s presence in our meetings.

    We’ve experienced the inconveniences and frustrations of quarantine as a corporate body. And we’ve protected our most vulnerable congregants…We have a beautiful facility which I look forward to seeing soon. But our church is not built of brick. Our church is all of us.