Preamble: I was prompted by a colleague on Facebook today:
However, I'm on vacation and will not be preaching tomorrow - but I do realize how important these events around us are, and have got to the point where we do need to speak up / comfort / direct us back to hope.
So here is a letter I sent out to my Merced church family today:
It's been a terrible week:
I'm on vacation, and won't be at church Sabbath, but with everything I know my congregation is viewing, experiencing etc... I wanted to make sure God showed up in the middle of it all.
As always, I want to protect this congregation from politics and advertising. But this week I wouldn't mind the ability to also shield you from the news, summer camp of all things, death, pain . . .
No matter who you support this fall, you've endured your candidate being attacked. It's either e-mail servers, or accusations of racism. We either need our guns to protect us from this violent state, or we need to give up our guns to make it less violent. No answer is simple, no way forward clear to all. We've lost people in our country this week just because they were black, or just because they were white. I read a headline this morning "Can White and Black America Live Together?" The answer is obvious - "yes". We do it every day. But the tension is palpable right now.
Politics is taking center stage. As a society we must find someone who can lead us forward and out of crisis. We've done it before... we must hope we can do it again.
But as people of faith we know it will get better. But as people of the Word, we know too that it gets worse before it gets better. Stay strong. And trust God to see through to the end what has been started.
If you've not heard by now, a friend of many of our students, working at Camp Wawona, died on his day off in Yosemite this week. His name is Kevin Cananvan, and you can read more on our Facebook page here.
I've also blogged my feelings about it here. (see next post)
If it is hope you are looking for, what better than to have one of our young people speak to us. You know how us older folk look back longingly to a better time? Well, our youth are living their better time. These last couple of weeks I've asked people who don't usually preach to come to the "pulpit". I've heard both Bert last week, and Abi this week, speak about God before, and I wanted you all to hear them too. So come and support Abi Ramos Sabbath.
I know I have to check myself. I do think the stakes were raised this week in the way police (our protectors) were sought out. But I am very aware that while black people were being killed by their protectors, I said nothing publicly. Choosing to remain outside the wall of "politics". But some things transcend our political world - and speak instead to common morality and justice. And while I believe church should step aside on politics, it really should be at the forefront of common justice - especially for the least of these - that is, those who receive little to no justice. So yes, as a pastor, and what I hope is a faithful human being, I question my pulpit silence while black people were getting killed for being black, only to break it here now when white people are getting killed for being white.
I know too, many of my good friends and fellow church members will see it differently. It is my hope that even here, I can continue to help you draw closer to God - our Creator, our Savior, and our Comforter.