Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,
I hope that this Resurrection season finds you reborn in the spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that you are living out your faith, not just as a spiritual exercise, but as a daily application of the message of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for our Spirit-led Holy Week services which were transformative and redemptive and for the worship that we shared all month long. I would be remiss if I did not thank my good friend the Reverend James O. Stallings, retired Regional Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro New York, for bringing an after Easter word for us! Our hearts and minds were captivated. As always, we were left with an invaluable takeaway. Thank you Rev. Stallings!
This month we celebrate Mother’s Day. All of us should have great appreciation for our mothers, grandmothers, and those who take on the mantle of motherhood in our lives. I look forward to sharing with you a powerful word on Mother’s Day that will help us to see the mothering qualities of God and how God works in motherhood. Please join us for our Mother’s Day service and bring someone with you!
I have heard from many of you and your questions and concerns regarding this country, the political climate, and the many issues and challenges we face. I have also heard your concern for this world and the problems we face as global residents. I want to let you know that in the coming weeks I plan on addressing specific challenges that we may encounter in this country and how we can overcome through our faith in Jesus Christ.
As many of you know, I believe that our faith in our risen Savior is in vain if we are not following the message of Christ and impacting the lives of others as Christ did. Care and concern (love) for others as well as ourselves is a central tenet of our faith and belief. If our actions are not in line with this basic understanding, how can we claim to love God or follow Jesus Christ? Many of us who say we believe in Christ have no problem with the previous assertion. What becomes problematic is how we implement care and concern in the midst of our own social, economic, religious and political leanings. In this day and age, as members of a community of faith, we need to be active in challenging those who claim they are for humanity, yet enact rules, regulations, laws, and policies that harm or have the potential to harm humanity.
I will continue to make the case that Christ cares not about our political party or our country, if we are to the left or the right, or even if we are a Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical, or anything else. I believe that the sacred texts let us know that Jesus was concerned about the love of God, which meant love of our fellow person and ourselves with grace, mercy, and justice, and refocusing our priorities in that light.
So, I am willing to have discussions with those who may disagree with my political and social leanings. I am willing to listen and learn from those who have differing theological viewpoints. I am willing to debate a host of matters that pertain to our society and government. But, I will never waiver on the foundational calling and message of Jesus Christ to be a liberative and redemptive force in our society for humanity and particularly those who are suffering and being mistreated.
Here is what we can do. We can learn about the various issues that are occurring in our society and the lives they will impact. We can start a conversation or join a conversation about these issues and how we can work through them via our faith and beliefs. We cannot be silent, be uninformed, or sit idly by as a select few speak for so many; especially, when they drown out the voice of the people. Our world cannot afford it. Our faith suffers in the midst of it. And we will all be worse off because of it.
I welcome your comments, questions, and conversations.
Pastor Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.