"Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men's actions."
Friday, December 11, 2015
New Directions, Light in the Darkness
I am not the leader of one of the historic mainline
Protestant denominations. That is likely a very good thing. But I am an ordained
Presbyterian minister and a hospital Chaplain in Behavioral Health for over two
decades. I listen to people for a living. I listen with an ear to truly, deeply
understanding their pain and, with close attention, to the whispers and movements
of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and in their living.
I know that the great majority of the people I see are
deeply longing to be lifted out of despair and anxiety, they are longing for a reliable
voice of hope in the dark, wilderness of these difficult and confusing days.
More and more, I listen to people who cannot hear or identify that voice in the
mainline Protestant Churches. Often, they would like to but even if they hear a
word of hope and grace, of forgiveness and compassionate direction, they fear,
based on strong experience, they cannot trust the actions of the leaders and
the people to be follow suit.
We church people are quick to defend that among leadership
and the people, Christ calls and gathers sinners and the broken. That is most certainly
true, I am a huge sinner and quite broken—as are we all. But defenses,
especially, those often practiced and employed, prevent our growth toward
deeper and more authentic union with Christ. The more we practice them, the
more the relieve us of our faithful responsibility of inviting the Holy Spirit to
heal and grow our hearts and communities of faith beyond the boundaries of our
broken-sinfulness into deeper and more authentic union with Christ. Jesus is
the way the truth and the life (John 14). To know Jesus’ truth, to grow closer
to God, to live our great mission of participating in bring about God’s Kingdom
in this world, we cannot hide from our own sin and brokenness—our own truth.
Mainline Protestants leaders, local pastors and
congregations now have an amazing invitation to stand on a national and world
stage (pulpit) proclaiming the truth of the heart of the Gospel before the
mania, mayhem and message of Donald Trump’s run for President of the United
In my email I have received statements by two of the major
Protestant Denominations denouncing Trump’s latest statements about banning our
Muslim sisters and brothers from our nation founded on religious freedom. It
seems opportune for the leadership of these denominations, and all others, to
take a more public and united stand. And, it seems well for the rest of us,
clergy and lay, to follow suit from the pulpit, in adult and youth/children’s education,
around the water cooler, board room table and on the 19th hole to do
Based on what I hear from people who are honestly, and in earnest,
seeking places of spiritual, communal and social compassion and integrity to
call home, such a prayerful, public, faith-filled commitment to concerted
action might be a good way to witness being Church in new way for this new mullein.
Witnessing our faith in Christ with the integrity of our actions such that the
people trapped in the land of deep darkness can see the shining light of Christ
(Is. 9). Jesus is the way, the truth and