FROM THE PASTOR’S PEN: “A New Year & Goals for Discipleship”

Back in November, following the very contentious national election, I received a letter from Timothy Merrill, the editor of Homiletics, one of the sermon resource publications to which I subscribe.  I found the letter very encouraging and held onto it, believing it speaks a word of hope and challenge to all of us.  As we enter a new year with many political changes ahead, I believe Mr. Merrill’s words offer an important perspective and reminder of the task before us as Christ’s disciples, a call that transcends our identity as Republicans and Democrats, or even as Americans.  What follows in bold italics is that letter, exactly as I received it, minus only a closing remark appropriate specifically to a pastor’s responsibility to a congregation - one I hope I am fulfilling in part by passing on these timely thoughts.  

 The recent national election produced a result that everyone agrees was nothing short of an amazing political upset.  Half the country is elated; the other half discouraged.  I don’t know if your congregation is generally pleased with the outcome, mortified by the result or ambivalent about the whole thing. 

 This doesn’t matter.

 What matters is that we’re citizens of another country, with a different agenda and different mission.  We are ambassadors for a Regent, and this transcends whatever is happening politically in the United States of America.

 Our duty now is the same as it has been during the Obama Administration; it is the vision articulated by the prophet Micah: To do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)

 In that sense, this election changes nothing.

 Finally – however we voted – we must remember and put into practice our theology which transcends human and artificial labels.  “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; [there is no longer Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative] for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).

 With the apostle Paul, I likewise beg “you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

 I am certain that 2017 will bring changes and challenges (not only politically).  As disciples of Jesus Christ and citizens of his kingdom, I would encourage you to face the future with hope.  Remember that our mission and call remain the same.  Also remember that to fulfill our calling we must work together, whatever our political outlook, and seek the Spirit’s guidance and strength that we may respond faithfully to those changes and challenges as Christ’s ambassadors, good and faithful servants of the Lord of love.