Pastoral Letter November 9, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Adventers woke today to beautiful blue skies and radiant sunlight in central Tennessee. For some, the weather was a confirmation of their feelings regarding this presidential election; for others, the weather served much the same purpose as the rainbow in the sky. We were reminded once again that God is still The Lord, that Jesus still reigns as King, and that there is nothing new under the sun.
To say that this election season has been incredibly divisive is perhaps one of the greatest understatements I may ever write. For starters, seasons last only a few months. This election cycle has been waged since at least December of 2014, though some pundits would point out it began the day after Obama defeated Romney in November 2012. It is, therefore, no small wonder that we are tired, on our last nerve, or simply wanting the election to be over. And when we consider the vitriol that has been flung through the airwaves, our Facebook feeds, our Twitterverses, and the blogosphere with respect to the candidates, divisive just does not seem to describe adequately the chasms between “us’s” and “them’s” created during this campaign.
Now we have a new President-elect. Some Adventers are happy, either because their candidate won on the other candidate lost. Some Adventers are sad because their candidate of choice lost. Still other Adventers are disappointed simply because they could not support either candidate. I know these emotions are raw and strong right now. It is precisely for that reason that I needed to pen this note.
As raw and strong-feeling as we may be right now, Adventers know that this is not the end for which we labor. Whether a Democrat or Republican or third-party candidate resides in the White House, our Lord Christ still sits on the throne! We know that our real citizenship is elsewhere, even as we love our country and work to fulfill our Lord’s Prayer and work that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Many of our friends, family members, and co-workers, however, do not share that same faith. As we look around and listen to the opinions being expressed today and in the days and weeks to come, we may hear talk ranging from triumphalism to despondency regarding the new President-elect. Let me remind each one of us that we are ambassadors for the King. Let us respond to the hurt, the fear, the sense of triumph, the anger, and whatever else we encounter with His heart and His mind. One of the primary roles of the Church has been to embrace the marginalized and to draw them into the embrace of Christ, even as She has been called to remind the self-sufficient that their path is one of pitfall and disappointment.
As this election season fades, we Adventers find ourselves about to embark on our season, a season of both remembrance and anticipation, the season when we remind ourselves and others that the Lord has come and will come again to consummate His eternal kingdom. As such, we will be looking both back in history, reminding of what God has done, and forward, reminding us what He has promised to do. As such, you and I are uniquely equipped within the Church to speak into those lives strongly affected by yesterday’s outcome.
We know that rulers, no matter how horrible or how good, are mortal and do not last. We know that each of us, each and every single person on this earth, is loved by God, “stamped” with His image, and called to eternal life with Him. And we know that God can redeem all things.
The Church, as nearly every demographic in this election cycle, has been dragged through the muck and mire of this election process. The pundits and politicians have tried hard to sully her, and in the eyes of many they have succeeded. You and I have a unique opportunity, though, to listen with His ears, to understand with His heart, and to speak His hope into the lives of others, thereby demonstrating His love and grace and hope to a people desperately in need to know that someone cares, that someone hears, and that someone loves.
What can we do? Listen. We have two ears and one mouth. Let’s try to listen twice as much as we speak. Let’s pray that God gives us the ears to hear what it is that is causing the emotions in the heart of the other. Pray. Our Lord Christ instructed us to pray for our enemies and to pray for our leaders. Can we not do at least that much for our fellow citizens who simply align themselves politically in a way different than we choose? Invite. To understand others, we need to get to know them. Why not share a cup of coffee, a meal, an activity, or even a worship service? Love. Remember, we are about drawing others into His saving embrace. If we know Him and believe His words to be true, we should comport ourselves with a joy and freedom and hope that causes others to seek the cause within us. If they flee us, if they reject us, we need to be prayerfully discerning whether our behavior aligns with our words, whether we reflect a God who came to earth, died and was buried, and who rose again instructing all who call Him Lord to preach Him and His saving work to the ends of the earth that all might live with Him eternally! That, my brothers and sisters, is our platform and our calling.
As always, Holly† and I invite your conversations, your observations, and even your ventings. If you feel you need to talk, to theorize, to cry on a shoulder, or to howl at the moon, give us a call or drop by to see us!
In Christ’s Peace,