Pastor’s Blog for March  1 2017

What you see depends on your point of view.

Perspective is the vantage point from which you survey your position relative to your surroundings. The wider your perspective the more information you can factor into your plans for the future; be it a specific action, direction or commitment. For instance, the more you know about a potential life partner, the better equipped you are to know if this can be someone who shares enough of your values to make a lasting marriage. The more you understand about the world we live in, the better one can assess the challenges and needs around us. The clearer we see the role of our church in our context, the better we can respond to the needs and opportunities to serve around us and therefore prioritize our expenditures of energy, time and money to those ends. Perspective is essential for seeing our way into the future.

Lent is an opportunity to gain perspective on ourselves, our church and our world. It is an opportunity to see more clearly what is at stake for us as individuals, as partners of Christ for the transformation of the world, and as members of the human family today. To look at our current world situation is to see a host heartbreak around our planet. Genocide that goes unchecked in Syria. North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear prowess threatens half the world. Global warming threatens all life as we know it. Atrocities against women and children go unchecked in many places. In our own country, divisions rock our communities with racial divides. Families are terrified of being ripped apart by deportation. Vitriolic political discourse has demoralized our nation and a climate of hate has given rise to violence against our fellow citizens.

Given just that much, what are we to do about it? Very little of the above can be impacted by us as individuals, even collectively. But what is at stake is who we are in response. If we do not see ourselves as people who provide some counterweight to hate, see ourselves as people who stand against oppression, as people who come alongside those who suffer injustice, or raise our voices to advocate for peace, see ourselves as stewards of our earth, or speak truth, then what are we church for?

If we see that we are here to make disciples, to be a boot camp for those who; in the power of the Spirit, side with God in the likeness of the man from Galilee, for the sake of the life of the world, then we have perspective. If we see that we are here to be God’s agents of restoration, justice and love, then it is clear why we are here and what we are to do. Perspective is about knowing who we are; a people of hope, who love concretely, accept our freedom to resist evil and oppression is whatever forms they present themselves and serve our Lord by following him into the world to heal, teach, name and forgive, and therefore do his work of bringing life to the world.

To do this, we need to drill down on the goal of making disciples. Equip ourselves for ministry in this current world. Arm ourselves with the gifts of the Spirit. Take seriously our role as Christ’s risen body, the church in the world. Claim our freedom and joy in the abundant life we discover in loving one another and open the arms of the church wide to include all who want to love in God’s name. With that perspective, we know what we are to do, who we are to do it with, and why. That’s a lot to see.

Thanks be to God who shows us the way the truth and the life for ourselves and our world in Jesus Christ.

Rev. Linda Farmer-Lewis, Central United Methodist Church, Lansing Mi   Ash Wed, 2017