[In my church] the bottom line is this: all are welcomed in my church and loved unconditionally by God. And all are asked and enabled to become more than what they are when they walked in the door – a person who is continually growing and transforming into the likeness of Christ. --Travis Garner in "Being a Pastor in 5-4 World" (See link to article below)
We have been through so much change of late. Being an Episcopal priest born and raised and currently living in Charleston, South Carolina, a major flashpoint of the Civil War (politico-militarily in 1861, sociologically in the hospital workers' strike in 1969, and ecclesiologically with the Episcopal Church schism in 2012), I have witnessed first-hand the difficulty with which change and progress is made. Now we have been stricken with community-wide grief over the racially-motivated Mother Emanuel murders, people have been divided over the confederate flag in part as a result, the Supreme Court made a ground-shaking decision by the narrowest of margins on the definition of marriage. Such a narrow decision bespeaks deep division in our society. I have experienced fear and anger from some of my friends over it. Finally, on a happier note, a man was elected, for the first time in history, as the first African American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. A glimmer of hope that an institution can be so united over what was once a deep division of ideology among us, especially those of us in the south. But so much change at once. Some of it we happily fell into. In some of it we were pushed over the top by a clearer perspective brought on by tragedy. With some of the change, however, we remain in transition...and division.
And the reactions to all this change are still evolving. Last Saturday one of my daughters posted on Facebook, "My Facebook feed this week looks like a battle broke out between the Confederates and a Skittles factory." I appreciated the humor of that, and the disconnect it brought me from the vitriolic tenor and tension that seemed to come to a head late last week. Facebook had become a wasteland of frustration and raw emotion. I hope Facebook in this instance has proved an effective lance for this boil and that we can actually go back to being "friends" soon.
In times such as this, one thing is clear: We need Jesus. Those who feel as though the moral fabric of our society has been irreparably torn need Jesus. Those who are elated over the changes established by the Supreme Court need Jesus. Those who feel that a little bit will have died inside when the confederate flag comes down from display on the State House grounds need Jesus. Those who would climb the pole and impatiently tear it down themselves need Jesus. All of us do. I came across this article this morning, and offer it for your contemplation. As a pastor ministering in a 5-4 world, we need Jesus--together. Not "my Jesus" or "your Jesus", but the One who loves us all. We believers, after all, have been given the ministry of reconciliation. The vision of God in Christ is that we be one in Him. I suppose the issues, or our opinions regarding them, should not, then, be our guiding force. Instead, can we love and minister to one another, despite them...and better yet, through them? I can guarantee only two things, and they are 1) that these issues and their attendant changes will not be our last and 2) Jesus shall reign where e'er the sun doth his successive journeys run. Let's count on the latter to guide us through the former.
Chris Huff +
Article here:Being a Pastor in a 5-4 World