Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Taking a break

For the longest time Facebook was a place where I could connect with folks I rarely see, and stay in touch with people in my congregation, and post pictures of my cats.  I played games on Facebook - annoying some of my friends until I learned how to keep the notifications to just game players.  I enjoyed the slices of funny and profound that I found on Facebook.  I found links to writings that informed my preaching and helped me in my quest to eat healthier foods. I have, sadly, had to block relatives who proudly posted white supremacist views.  But I found new family on Facebook, and even became a Fairy Godmother!

When I was at General Assembly last month so many people came up to me and told me how much they love my cats!  They told me that my cats bring them joy.  I loved that my four footed housemates had a ministry of joy all on their own (with a tiny bit of help from my iPhone camera.)  I love being able to add to the sum total of joy in the world with pics of my Feline Overlords.

I learn so many things on Facebook. I follow news stories and checked them against  I follow people who write posts that make a lot of sense to me, and whose opinions I value.   I have been exposed to news sources I hadn't previously encountered, some reliable, some not so much.   I keep discovering new theologians and preachers and I love all the new opportunities to learn.

But lately it seems like 3/4 of my feed is composed of arguments between friends that use no logic but only name calling and phrases like "everyone knows" instead of demonstrable data.  Alternate facts?  Fake news?

Today I can't take the hate anymore.  So I will take a Facebook break for a few days.  Or a week. Consider it a silent retreat.  Maybe next week I will feel stronger.  Or maybe the week after my vacation.  I'm not sure how long my break will be, but this one thing I do know.  I'll be back.  I can't stay away from all my friends and loved ones for very long.

May God's blessings of peace and serenity fall upon you all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I preached on Sunday

I preached on Sunday.

I preach every Sunday.  Most Sundays my message is encouraging and hopeful.  Most Sundays my message is intended to teach my congregation how to love the neighbor and themselves and their God.  Most Sundays my congregation leaves feeling good - I hope.

But this past Sunday I preached a message that had me shaken and upset.  I preached about the things that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.  I called out white supremacists and racists and haters of all kinds. I told a story from my life, when a neighbor and a friend burned a cross in our newest neighbor’s front yard.  There was nothing nice or sweet or encouraging about my sermon.   I raised my voice.  I called a sin a sin.  I called on my folks to do the same. 

Every Sunday my sermons are posted on Facebook and YouTube and GooglePlus and on my blog and on the church website.  Most weeks there are “likes” and +1s and comments and shares.

This week - nothing.

This week no one on the inter webs said anything.

But from my own congregation, the people who sat here and experienced it with me . . . 

there were smiles and tears and hugs and pats on the back
there were emails and text messages later telling me how powerfully it had spoken to them.
I was mobbed after worship, by youth and young adults, thanking me for what I said.

I have gotten used to the public approval.  I missed it.  Maybe I even crave it.

But the important people heard it. The people I was preaching to heard it.  And received it.

More importantly though - I said it.  I said what I needed to say, no matter how hard it was, no matter how scary it was.  Because it needed to be said Sunday, and it will need to be said again and again.

As long as there is hatred, we need to preach love.

Even for the haters.

For Jesus said, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. …”   Matthew 5:43-48