A Timely Reflection
On Life at CLC
On Life at CLC
Greetings in Christ!
While at the LCMNet National Staff Conference last week, we found ourselves in a significant struggle. Exactly a week after the murders of the Charleston 9 at Emanuel AME, nothing was said at our opening worship. No names mentioned. No prayers lifted. No laments raised. Nothing. This brought tears of sadness and anger not only to our black colleagues, but to many of us across the racial spectrum.
In this week’s reading from Ezekiel, we hear God refer to God’s people as “hardheaded” and “hard-hearted,” and that Ezekiel’s mission is to speak as a prophet to these people. As a community, perhaps our conference was hardheaded and hard-hearted.
Not maliciously so, of course. We mourn for each of those people who died. We grieve for their families. We lament the sins of racism and violence in the world. But as a predominantly white church, it’s also easy for those things to move to the backs of our minds. This seems a most prevalent example of white privilege. White Christians can enter a sanctuary a week after such terrorism and not even think about the dangers constantly faced by our black sisters and brothers. Privilege, in this sense, is about our ability to live life without considering how race shapes our life experience. Privilege, perhaps, is being hardheaded and hard-hearted to the sufferings of those around us, not maliciously, but ignorantly.
This week, ask God to remove any hardheadedness and hard-heartedness from your life and that of our church. Ask God to make you aware of how privilege shapes your life. Pray that this awareness helps us to weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, and softens our heads and hearts to the needs and experiences of all.
Greetings in Christ!
This week’s first reading comes from Lamentations 3, where we hear, in part, that, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for God’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
There’s powerful information in that first word, yet. You see, Jeremiah, the prophet and author of Lamentations, witnessed the fall of Jerusalem firsthand. This book gives us chapters of his grieved witness as he sees the holy city overrun and watches the temple overthrown. Yet, despite all this calamity, Jeremiah calls to mind the love of God, the compassionate, faithful renewal of God’s mercy. And so, inexplicably, he has hope.
There was an incredible yet this week after the Charleston terror attacks. Though the families of the Charleston 9 were justified in righteous anger and despair, they instead brought words of forgiveness to the bond hearing for the shooter. In the face of racism and violence, they spoke words of mercy and peace. Like Jeremiah, their futures were torn away, yet like Jeremiah they embraced the love of God so inexplicably that they found hope in the midst of a hopeless situation.
This week, continue in prayer for the congregation at Emanuel AME and especially the families of the victims. Learn from the prophets who stand at the heart of destruction and yet trust in God. Work for peace and justice for all people, especially those victimized by hate, oppression, prejudice, and violence. Like Jeremiah, like Emanuel AME, live the daring hope of God against all odds.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Andrew Tucker
Greetings in Christ!
In this week’s Gospel reading, we find Jesus asleep in the boat as his disciples fear the sudden squall will capsize their boat. We find the disciples doubting not only Jesus’ power to control the situation, but his concern at their plight. We find Jesus calming the storm and questioning their doubt.
But perhaps the most surprising discovery is that the disciples don’t respond with thanks. Some translations of the Bible suggest the disciples were “awed,” but this doesn’t capture the sense of anxiety the disciples felt. Others say they were “terrified” or even “feared exceedingly,” but to our ears this sounds too akin to a Hitchcock movie. Perhaps the right word is dumbfounded. So surprised that they doubted. So shocked that unease sets in alongside joy. Awe wrapped up with a fear of the unknown, that this Jesus who they know and love apparently has power over all creation.
What strikes me today about this passage is this: When we ask something of Jesus, the response may just dumbfound us. We ask God for deliverance even as we doubt whether God has the care or ability to actually deliver us. Yet, would God be in the boat if God didn’t care? Would God sleep and allow us to pilot the boat if any true danger were at hand?
We’re dumbfounded because of our doubt, even though Jesus walks alongside us and endures the storms of our lives. Fortunately, Jesus also carries us through the storms, stilling them with a word of promise and a presence of peace. God’s grace is wide enough to handle not only the storms of our lives, but also the doubt of our questions. In all things, God calms the storms and guides us graciously to safety.
Recently, Michelle and I began planting grass in parts of our yard that needed attention. But before we could undertake that task, we had to remove incredible amounts of rock and debris from the ground. We found shards of glass, rusted car parts, discarded piping, and even more just below the surface of the soil. Though the topsoil seemed ready enough, as we tilled we realized that we needed to cleanse the ground before new life could occur.
Sometimes, in the life of faith, we also need to cleanse the soil of our lives before true development may occur. Though the surface appears ready for new growth, the remains of our broken dreams and shattered pasts sometimes litter the dirt beneath. We often need to first deal with those things before we can prepare for the kind of transformation that God has in store for us.
This Sunday we’ll hear Jesus’ parable of the different kinds of soil. As we hear that, I encourage you to consider where God must work to cleanse the soil of your life and of the life of our church before some new growth can happen. Our recent growth in numbers is a blessing, one that we want to ensure faithfully continues. Let’s ensure that the soil of CLC is ready for the work of God!
Greetings in Christ!
This week is our synods annual assembly. It often brings up questions about why individual churches are connected to a larger group and about why the pastor has responsibilities outside of the local congregation.
In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, he prayed that the church would be one as He and the Father are one. In other words, that we would be united in love toward and mission for the world. This is one of the great gifts of synodical and church wide work. It allows us to help realize Jesus’ prayer as we join together in love toward and mission for the world God created.
Because of our work with other congregations across the U.S., we were able to send health kits across the world to those in need. Because of our Virginia Synod contributions, we’ve been able to fight childhood hunger in Virginia. Because our of our ecumenical connections, we’re working with the Virginia Council of Churches to partner with God and ensure the continuation of the church’s faithful work into this new era where faith is not assumed or embraced by everyone. And these are only a few immediate examples.
We’re better together. When we connect the work from our congregation with the work of others across the state and country, we can see at least a glimpse of our oneness in Christ, and through that, the unity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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