Being Faithful During an Election

Being Faithful During an Election

The general election season is about to begin.

In the coming weeks, the Democratic and Republican national conventions will commence in modified fashion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Presidential and gubernatorial debates will look different, as well. By late October and, of course, on November 3, millions will go to the polls to register their vote.

It is anticipated that this election, much as in 2016, will be divisive and highly partisan. If you recall, the election in 2016 was among the most heated in American history. Perhaps only the contests between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams could compete with and, even, exceed the visceral nature of the previous election.

As we prepare for the election, we will hear rhetoric from all sides that will attempt to shape the outcome. Advocates will talk about the character of one over another. We’ll hear about policies and how they are what is needed for America, and the world, to thrive. As well, we’ll hear how the refusal to vote for one candidate or another is an affront to our faith and connection to God.

One of my passions is public theology. That is the study and discernment of how faith intersects with our public life and, yes, political discourse. It is not a study of how to get the nation to become a theocracy. Instead, it seeks to examine how we live faithfully as citizens of God’s kingdom within our connections and activities in the public world. And, yes, that includes how or why we vote and how we engage the election process.

With the dawn of the fall campaign upon us, the question that I am wrestling with is this: how can we be faithful to God in the political process? Continue reading “Being Faithful During an Election”

Sermon Follow Up: Meet the Needs

Sermon Follow Up: Meet the Needs

I remember when I sat in the pews as a lay member that often by Monday morning I would forget what was proclaimed on Sunday.

There were many reasons for this. Partly it was because I would get so distracted with things on Sunday evening that I never took the time to reflect upon what was said, but, too, there was seldom an opportunity to take the sermon beyond what was proclaimed and carry it forward.

That limits our ability to be the church and share the love of Christ beyond Sunday morning, or at least it did for me.

So, how can we carry forward the message and truly apply it into our lives and missional activity? Let’s think about it through the lens of what we reflected upon Sunday.

In our sermon, we focused on the story of the feeding of the 5,000. We looked at how Jesus had compassion for the large crowd that gathered around him, even to the point of meeting their needs for food when the hour was late. At the same time, he called the disciples to meet the needs, themselves, by using the resources they had to bless others. Jesus calls us to do the same and meet the needs of the people around us with what we have.

How do we do this? Continue reading “Sermon Follow Up: Meet the Needs”

Share the Love

Share the Love

I have to admit that I have always loved these words from Paul and Romans 8. They have comforted me in times of trial, and encouraged me to keep the faith when things seem difficult in both life and in the ministry. They are a “go to” when I need to be reminded of God’s love.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Those words comfort and provide hope immediately once we read them and reflect upon their meaning. They are, perhaps, words we need to hear this morning.

Perhaps, too, words I need to hear as we gather for worship in our parking lot and online. You see, there are moments when I wonder how could God love someone like me. I look at myself and wonder what is there to really love. I am the product of childhood trauma from, at best, a neglectful step-father. My first marriage ended in divorce, which led to a period of deep despair and financial struggles. I have long believed that people expect perfection from me, and so it is easy for me to find my faults and criticize who I am and what I do. I have often asked how could God love someone like me? Continue reading “Share the Love”

What Do I Miss?

What Do I Miss?

I love the first song in the second half of “Hamilton.” It is a hilarious song that transitions the show, and many of the cast members, into a new portion of the story of Alexander Hamilton and his work in the administration of President George Washington.

The song, called “What Did I Miss?,” introduces Thomas Jefferson to the story, but with some humor since it is played by the same actor who, in the first half, portrayed the Marquis de Lafayette. In the song, though, the conversation is in the past tense. It describes things that Jefferson has missed while he was in France and moves the story along past the Revolutionary War. To be honest, it is the celebratory dancing that make the song. If you don’t believe me, access Disney Plus and watch for yourself.

While the song may be sung in the past tense, I believe for many of us in the church we are living out the song. There are things we miss as we continue to exist in a socially distant expression of worship in response to the current pandemic. I hear these things expressed in conversation and, recently, as we have transitioned to a modified form of worship in our parking lot. We are missing the people, music, and worship as a body.

I can understand that. I feel each of those things in my soul. Continue reading “What Do I Miss?”

Living with Weeds

Living with Weeds

I was raised in Shady Spring: population of 1,000 and now with its regionally-famous traffic light and Dollar General. It is a small town on the outskirts of Beckley, but has always been home for me.

I was what you would call a nerd. My focus was on studying presidential history and being part of the journalism staff at the junior high and high school. I also worked for the local paper. I wasn’t athletic, even though I tried about every sport and loved to watch them all.

My favorite sport to participate in was wrestling. I loved the sport, and was average, at best, at it. When I moved more into my journalism career, it was always the most enjoyable and complex sport to cover. I still enjoy it today. What did I enjoy about it? You were part of a team, yet you were responsible for your own actions. You had to think on your feet and consider how to achieve your objective in a limited time and space.

Now, I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t just enjoy freestyle wrestling as a youth. I also enjoyed professional wrestling. There is something humorous about watching two people bark about how they are the most impressive talker and fighter all while wearing a feather boa and a mullet.

That love of professional wrestling has led to the creation of a line that you may hear from time to time. That line is this: This is feeling a lot like WrestleMania. It was a line, and its variations, that I started to say in the lead-up to General Conference last year. I was responsible for covering the event for the Kentucky Annual Conference. As I covered the event, I actually felt like I was at WrestleMania. For me, the phrase is used to describe an event that has become filled with anger, talking, and divisiveness, especially in places you would least expect it. Sadly, I use that phrase a lot in the life of the church. Continue reading “Living with Weeds”