Day by Day with Pastor Jen

March 3, 2016

Primary elections or what is known as “Super Tuesday” was this week. Before and after the votes were counted news stations were saturated with commentary and statistics. The speeches of candidates were splashed across every screen. I heard the forceful, astonished, and often angry responses of neighbors chatting at the gas station. The same tenor of responses posted by friends and church members unspooled in my social media accounts. Folks responded whether or not their candidate made significant gains. What seems to lie underneath these responses is a deep concern for the direction and the people of this country and a rising sense of fear on our behalf. Many are fearful of what will come if the “wrong” leader is elected. We also know that the race towards election is well on its way.

 

As a community of faith, I invite you to prayerfully walk with me toward Election Day. As we do, (we a community of people who likely hold out hope for different outcomes) let’s consider a few things:

           

How shall I walk as a person of faith and honor God throughout this election?

Some ideas from John Wesley, the founder of our tradition in the Christian faith.

(From October 6, 1774 but clearly still in play).

 

He says, “To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy.”  I imagine none of us are getting paid, but our rewards might be that we fit in with others. Our rewards might be that we voted comfortably without allowing Christ to challenge or confirm our vote, but went our own way.

 

“To speak no evil of the person they voted against,” he said. I read so many posts about the candidate the writer is against and the assumed evil of their character, actions or belief. Rather than tear down, let us be people who build up, (Ephesians 4:29). In other words, “Promote what you love, don’t bash what you hate,” from an unknown author.

 

“To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side,”  was Wesley’s last key point. It is easy for us to turn against the candidates and voters with whom we so utterly disagree. What they hold true may push against some of the dearest things we hold pure, true, and utterly non-negotiable. Even so, our call is to love the enemy. It is to honor the other as God’s creation (Imago Dei) just as we are the creation of His hand.

 

How shall I prepare as Election Day marches toward us? Some ideas.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." declares the LORD. -Isaiah 55:9

 

Draw on the wisdom and ways of God: be in prayer and study of the scripture. Consider the consistent values of God and the ways in which God’s people are called to interact with government. HOW will your vote reflect that wisdom? Consider the ways Christ balances common good and personal freedom. Consider the roles of church and state as guided in the New Testament. Consider the ways of God’s justice and grace different from our own. Consider the ways Christ dealt with the stranger, the immigrant, or the one different from himself. Consider the way Christ called for us to deal with our money, our resources and our neighbors. Skim through the book of Matthew as a focused way to prepare.

 

In humility allow Christ to guide and re-direct your thinking. Let us admit that our own experiences, dispositions, and human prejudices may sometimes lead us more than the ways of Christ lead us. It may be that the candidate and agendas we are backing more strongly align with what we want rather than the consistent values we uphold in our faith. Let us be careful to humbly re-examine so as not to choose a candidate on a single issue or label, but on the breadth of those scriptural values exhibited throughout a platform. All of us could use more of Christ’s leadership and wisdom in this decision; none of us have it figured out.

 

Take part. Insure that you’re registered to vote and that you do. Christ sends us to make a difference. This is one key way.

 

Remember that God is sovereign. Nothing is beyond God’s reach… not the world, not this nation, and not the outcome of this election, no matter the result. Let our actions and reactions be a way of practicing our trust in our faithful God. May those around to witness our reactions see in us a gracious and trusting faith in a loving God.

 

We are a people beloved, forgiven and empowered by Christ. May our words and actions exhibit such grace in the ways we post on social media, speak in public and private spaces, and pray openly to a God who really does have us in the palm of his hand. Even now.

 

Christ’s Community

Paul tells the church not to run the race of faith without direction. (1 Corinthians 9:26). The Old Bethel Ministry committee teams are busy at work so as to run in a united direction. Each team is submitting the focus of their discipleship work by March 10th! Chairpersons and Pastor(s) will be uniting those foci in a united vision. We seek to grow in faith and offer the hope of Christ to the broader community through our work.

 

During Lent we are engaging in an all-church study of Philip Yancey’s What's So Amazing About Grace. This is not only a sermon series, but also includes short-term discussion groups meeting weekly through March 23 to enjoy great conversation and reflection about grace, justice, and forgiveness. The discussion groups, reading schedule and weekly summaries and reflection questions are posted on our website at www.oldbethel.org. Click the “Book Study” tab at the top of the home page or the direct link is http://www.oldbethel.org/#!book-study/pcwyo.

 

Invitation:

Gift cards: You are invited to donate Kroger or Walmart gift cards in the amount of $25 (no more, no less) which will serve as participation incentives for our neighbors living in poverty who are engaged in the Getting Ahead classes as they work towards financial stability and getting ahead in a getting by world. You may place the gift cards in the designated drop box in the narthex on Sundays or in Pastor Matthew’s mailbox throughout the week.

 

Community Easter Egg Hunt: Saturday, March 19 at 10am at Old Bethel UMC. Open to children through 5th Grade. Invite your friends and neighbors to this fun and engaging time of our community. In preparation for the largest Easter egg hunt in the history of Old Bethel, we are in need of 3 canopy tents, at least 1800 pieces of candy, 150 empty egg cartons, AND 30 VOLUNTEERS. Contact Mackenzie at mimbro@oldbethel.org.

 

Serving Christ Together,

Pastor Jen

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