There is an election coming up, you are probably aware of this fact, and as much as I try to avoid politics in church settings (I find it to be highly divisive for a church) it's almost impossible to avoid this year. This is the most divisive election cycle I can ever remember and even people older than me agree that our nation seems particularly divided by politics right now.
Between the BLM movement, a world-wide pandemic and disagreements over things like mask mandates and shut downs...we can all agree that 2020 has been a tough year for us all.
And soon we will have an answer to who will be our president for the next four years. Some will be happy because their candidate won. Some will be sad or mad because their candidate lost. Many will be worried about the direction of our country. And while I do have my own opinions about the best way forward politically, we need to remember that our ultimate hope is not in a certain candidate or party or platform; but in God.
Psalm 20:7 says "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
No matter who wins this election or any election, we know that God is still on the throne. No matter what political party may hold power, we know that God is still on the throne. No matter what law is passed that we agree with or disagree with, we know that God is still on the throne.
My hope is in the Lord and His Kingdom which will never end.
My grandparents lived through the great depression and it affected them in many ways. Because they had experienced poverty or at least seen the effects of poverty on so many, it changed the way they viewed money and things. I remember my grandfather making me take a bath one night in just a few inches of lukewarm water, that's what he had done growing up and he thought it would teach me to appreciate what I had (in reality it just made me ask for grandma to draw my baths from that point on).
We live in a world, a few generations later, that seems to treat all things as if they are disposable. Instead of washing the dishes, we just use paper plates and throw them away. We buy something cool (like the newest I-phone) but then are ready to trade it in as soon as something better comes along. We buy, use and throw away things pretty quickly.
Sometimes this view of the world affects how we even see people.
Recently, an idea called "Cancel Culture" has taken root in society where people are "cancelled" if they do something bad or offend us. Once a person has said something or done something wrong, we toss them aside and treat them as if they no longer exist and have no chance of redemption. This idea runs counter to the gospel of Jesus because we believe that all people, no matter how bad their sin, are capable of redemption by God and a fresh start on life.
Hebrews 10:22 says that we can "draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us." People who come to God with true sadness for their sins and a desire to be washed clean by his salvation should always find that the church is a place for a second chance. We don't cancel people, we help redeem people. We are the people of second chances and we don't treat people like disposable plates, but as fine china worthy of saving.
Romans 12:15 tell us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." I have always tried, in my ministry, to do both of these things. When it was time to celebrate with people (at births, weddings, baptisms...), I was ready to laugh, smile, hug and even dance during the wedding reception. I was also willing to mourn with those who had suffered loss due to illness, death, heartbreak or any number of things that cause us to grieve loss. Over my 20 years of ministry I have tried to live out these words.
But in the last week, I have struggled because I never expected to do these things with the same people so close together.
Back in August, I was honored to officiate the wedding of a young couple who were deeply in love. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding held at Six Points Church out by the cross. They, along with family and friends (and me) celebrated well.
But last week I got the terrible news that, due to an unknown heart condition, this lovely new bride had passed away quickly and completely unexpectedly...and so yesterday I led the funeral service to honor her life
Weeks ago we celebrated together, but yesterday we mourned together. Many tears were shed, and will continue to be over the coming days and weeks and months as we grapple with this tragic loss.
I would ask you to do a few things. First, pray for Alan (her husband) and the Gregory and Paramore families as they grieve. Mourn with them and pray for them often.
Second, hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them. Life is fragile and we don't know how many days we have with those we love.
Finally, and I know this sounds odd, but celebrate with Salem, the young lady who just passed. She put her faith in Jesus and so has entered into his Heavenly gates and heard the words "well done good and faithful servant" (Matt 25:21) and I want to celebrate with her that she has now entered into the life everlasting with her God and Savior!
Life is fleeting, but our hope is in the the Lord of eternal life.
I've always been a fan of music that I was too young to remember. I went through a phase where I only listened to music from the 60's and 70's even though I was only in diapers during the tail end of the 70's. I loved music from the British Invasion, 80's glam rock, early punk and even a bit of disco here and there...but it was musicians like Bob Dylan and other singer-songwriters that I liked the most. His song "the times they are a-changing" is a classic and a lyrical masterpiece.
Part of the reason that Bob's song was a hit is because it was true. People looked around and saw that the world was indeed changing, in some good and some bad ways. The relative peace of the 50's was giving way to the protests of the 60's and Americans saw the writing on the wall and knew that things might never be the same.
Today I look around and it's clear that this song is just as true today. It seems that the world is in chaos. Protests on the street, masks on our faces, political turmoil and deep division in our country seem ready to rip our peace to shreds. I don't know what will happen next, it seems like 2020 has given us one heartache after another and many believe that these might even be signs of the second coming near at hand.
I do know one thing that does not change. No matter how crazy this year gets, no matter how much else might change or seem in chaos; God is still the same.
1 Chronicles 16:36 says "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting."
While we may worry or fret over the events of the days ahead, God is a solid rock on which we can depend. To quote the old Hymn, "on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
So hold firm to the rock and even in the days that are a-changing...you will be able to depend on Him.