(A collection of sometimes disconnected thoughts on current events in our church, community and world. This might be a new practice as I enter my 3rd year at Central Christian Church as Lead Pastor. Or it might be a passing fancy. Time will tell. ITMT, here are some Monday Musings...)
It matters where you focus. Paul counsels us to not obsess over negative things (even when they are very real, painful and consequential) but rather to turn our hearts to God in petition and praise, setting our minds upon things that are good and praiseworthy. (Phil 4:4-9) So after a week that saw two middle aged white men perpetrate and attempt extreme, hate-driven violence in our nation, it would be easy to focus on the fear and heartache we feel. We definitely need to acknowledge them, and reflect upon the meaning of these events, their causes and consequences. Yet we must not and will not sit in our sorrow too long. David mourned his son while he was dying, begging God to spare him. But when that did not happen, David rose up and set his life path to learn from this experience and live in a way that honored the grief and the loss. (2 Samuel 12:15-23) We can similarly ask ourselves, “How will we now live? Will we allow our hearts to be broken by this senseless violence and hate? How will we live and work to transform our world so these attitudes, beliefs and behaviors become less frequent?”
One answer is that we must call out and resist hateful speech and actions every time we see it. When we see something questionable and the motives are unclear, we must ask in humility, “Can you say more? I’m unclear what you mean by this?” and then we can respond with an informed heart and mind to what we hear.
I am rededicating my life to seeking to build the beloved community, at Central Christian Church and in the wider community. This means I will be actively seeking deeper relationships with people who are different from me. And I will be actively seeking to lead us in providing more space and opportunity for relationship and conversation. And I will be joining and building teams of likeminded leaders. To that end yesterday I preached from The Greatest Showman about our longing and struggle to be accepted and to create welcoming communities. I was in the Dog Park helping to host a St. Francis inspired pet blessing and build spiritually open community among people who love their pets. I represented Central, Disciples of Christ, and Faith Forward Dallas at Congregation Sherith Israel for the community wide vigil for the martyrs of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh. In the midst I had numerous conversations with individuals and small groups along these same lines – “How will we foster beloved community within our own hearts and in our communities of practice?”
I want my life to matter. And for me that means passionately urging, supporting and equipping others in the same quest. I recognize not everyone seeks this. And not everyone who seeks it understands it in the same way. This itself is sadly a source of conflict and division.
Even so, I humbly walk forward toward The Light. Won’t you join me?
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Some ways you can engage at 4711 and beyond…
Connect at one of these opportunities to seek / promote wholeness and flourishing
Identify 1 person with whom you are in a disagreement / conflict, and ask them to lunch. Seek only to better understand their story and point of view. This is not your time to convince anyone of anything, but simply to see God in the other and thus allow the Spirit to heal you both.
I'd love to hear back from you. Share your thoughts below or contact me directly.