“Will the Last Peacemaker Leaving the Room, Please Turn Off the Lights?” (Retaking the Village Green 11/6/17)

Headlines no longer surprise me.

This past week we watched in horror as a person used a rented truck as an instrument of devastation on the streets in New York. Just as that story began to fall out of the news cycle, our focus was again transfixed on a story of a lone gunman opening fire and wounding or killing an entire congregation in Texas. We wonder if sanity and peace have left our corporate consciousness.

It seems today that all the adults have left the room when talking about peace. There is no model of peace coming from public figures. Peace is elusive from legislators, pundits and commentator’s posts, blogs, tweets and comments. Creating chaos makes better headlines than forging peace.

Peace is that fleeting commodity that people long for, but its presence is far too fleeting. Peace is treated as a feeling or emotion. “I feel at peace today,” some will say, until something rattles that peace.

Peace is sometimes treated as an equation: “My weapons – your weapons + luck = peace”

Peace is sometimes seen simply as a lack of conflict- a truce that has been called by parties in disagreement.

Because our understanding of peace varies, we do not really know it when it occurs, or where to look.

So where do we look for peace?

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

Peacemakers are called God’s children. That means that God’s children should be the peacemakers that people need and to whom they should look.

It means that to see lasting peace- peace that bridges race, gender, socio-economics, family structures, we should pursue to understand what it means to be God’s children, grow as His children, and then step into our culture to be enactors of God’s peace. It should be the people of God, followers of Christ, whose voices we hear in the media, whose hands we see at work in the community, and whose are lives are lived in such a way that people see and experience peace at work. Peace that will last. Peace will never come from a politician’s tirade, or banalities made, but only through God’s presence practiced and enacted by His people.

As we watch events unfold, it can appear that all the adults have left the room. It is time for the true peacemakers to step up, and step into the fray and lead.

The motto of Motel Six is, “We’ll leave the light on.”

Will I be a light of peace, a person of peace, a child of God?

Our culture is waiting for our answer.

 

 



“Hurricane? What Hurricane?” (Retaking the Village Green 9/19/17)

I should not be surprised.

After watching the morning news headlines I was informed, “The Emmy’s were political, North Korea was aggressive, new tropical storms were forming in the Caribbean, and whales were seen off our coast.”

Didn’t we just suffer through two devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and in the south?

The hurricanes past, people not suffering have moved on.

The media programs us to have our attention drawn to crisis, but then after a few news cycles, we are diverted on to other stories. The problem is most of life’s pains cannot be solved within the context of normal broadcast cycle.

Jesus told his followers, “The poor you will have with you always.” He knew, and wanted to make his followers know that there will always be people in pain, people suffering around us. There will be people overlooked, forgotten or quickly passed by. The challenge for Jesus followers is not to have our compassion or our vision diverted. I was thrilled to hear that we were able to send over $13,000 to “Samaritan’s Purse” to help with relief efforts. That is a great gift to those in need. Let us make sure that unlike the images we see on TV that can quickly fade, we do not allow our compassion to fade. We are reminded in Scripture, “not to become weary in doing good.” God enables us to act and respond to the needs around us, well beyond what our natural ability allows.

Next month we will engage in our second “Day of Service”- helping people in need in our own communities. Last year we had a great response for those helping, and those that received help. Let us be able to extend the compassion of Jesus, even when images fade and the story lines change.

Remember, after a crisis, people still have to pick up the pieces of their lives- Houston, Florida, or right next door to us. They will still need help delivered.

Let us make sure we are ready to respond.



“Does Your Church Have a Purple Door?” (Retaking the Village Green 6/28/17)

You could not miss it.

My wife and I were out for a casual drive years ago. We were meandering around roads in New England, when suddenly on the left- there it was. A typical small New England style church, with an atypical glaring purple front door. Being a pastor in New England for 30 years, it caught my eye. I slowed down to try and catch a glimpse of what flavor church it was and who was listed on the sign as pastor. I had a few questions. To my disappointment the marquee outside did not list the expected “First_____ Church” (fill in your favorite denomination), but had a name of a village art gallery. After driving away, disappointed there was no bold church decorating team to interview, I determined to do some research later. I learned that the former church had existed for over 75 years in that location, and when it could no longer attract new members, it finally had to sell the property and encourage its dwindling membership to seek solace elsewhere. As the years went on, I began to notice more buildings throughout our region, that at one time were set aside for worship, now commissioned for other purposes. For many, their story was the same as the “Church of the Purple Door.”

There could be many reasons for a church to fade away. Economic realities and population shifts can hurt. The saddest reason of all is when a local church loses its focus and ceases to be a lighthouse, and begins to exist only as a clubhouse for those who attend. A clubhouse exists for the comfort of its members. A lighthouse always has an eye on the community around and asks, “How can we welcome others in? How can we serve others in order that they can meet Jesus?”

I have been fortunate in the churches I have served in New England that each one has had as its mission a desire to welcome and serve others in the name of Christ. To be a lighthouse. To do that is hard work. Ask a lighthouse keeper. It sometimes means, like in a marriage, to set aside personal preferences, for the well-being and advancement of another. It means living, as Jesus did, sacrificially and lovingly.

Purple is a great color for some clothing, select sports cars, and maybe even hair- on the right person. I am glad the people in the churches I have served have had Jesus’ vision and the building will never be set aside for any other purpose than to fulfill the mission of being a lighthouse and an outpost for God’s kingdom in their community.

I pray God would raise up more outposts in our region in the years ahead.
 
Peace,
Pastor Kevin