From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

I hope you had the chance to go out and vote yesterday. I’ll admit, I almost forgot all about it, and since I’ve been so busy lately (more like I managed my time poorly), I didn’t even know who was running for what. I did find some time yesterday morning to quickly look online to see the candidates, and I made a quick mental note of who I wanted to vote for before rushing out the door to stop by a voting station before heading to my next appointment.

As you likely know, the voting cards only have the candidate’s name and the party they belong to (if any). So you basically have to go by memory what they said in their little campaign write ups when deciding which little bubble to fill in with ink. And again, with my poor time management skills, my mind was like a bowl of mush and I forgot all but 2 names that I wanted to vote for. All I had to go on was what party they were a part of (which didn’t help as I distinctly remember a few of the ones I liked weren’t part of any party).

It’s interesting, isn’t it? How our government is gets divided up into these parties, and it’s like we have to buy into one 100%. If we like 3 or 4 of our party’s promises and policies, we pretty much half to like them all as there seems to be no middle ground. I get why that system is in place, but it seems to me (and almost to extreme levels in the past 3 years) that it serves to draw deeper and thicker lines in the sand between people.

And I don’t really like this “us vs. them” mentality. It allows for too much assumption, finger pointing, and competition if you asked me. But that is the currently political climate now, and we do what we can do, starting with our ballots. I have to admit though, I’m liking how we’re seeing more and more independent candidates that don’t have an allegiance to a party and the ideals that come with it, but instead to the people that they they hope to serve.

Here are the readings for next Sunday:
Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22
Psalm 84:1-7
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

In scripture, or at least in a lot of common interpretations of scripture, we get a lot of “line in sand” drawing. And much of these lines are translated to how we organise ourselves today, like in denominations and what not. While I understand why some of those lines are drawn, I’m thinking that many of the lines are really there just to make us feel better about ourselves. Like we sometimes think that just because we’re behind a certain line, that makes us better than those who aren’t.

Take for example this Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. He’s drawn a clear line between him and the “sinners” of the day, including a poor fellow that is right there within earshot. The Pharisee compares himself to them, and actually gives thanks to God that he’s so much better (actually the original language for this story lends better to the Pharisee praying to himself which actually confirms a lot of what we’re thinking about him already).

But here’s thing: as we’re here putting down this Pharisee for drawing his lines, we too are effectively drawing a line between us and him, and we’re thinking that we’re better than him because we’d never draw such lines (just as we draw those lines). It’s like we can never get it right.

But one thing stood out to me in the second reading out of Paul’s second letter to Timothy: Paul talks about the people that didn’t support him and deserted him (II Tim 4:16) and he says something really interesting to me. He says that he doesn’t want their lack of support be held against them. He sounds… almost forgiving. It’s like he’s removed the lines between himself and them. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Paul understands God’s grace and is able to in turn show it to others.

And I wonder if that is the charge here for us in these passages, that we are to be humbled by God’s amazing grace, and learn how to show that same grace to others. That means that we forgive, we accept, and we remove the lines that separate us from each other.

This isn’t easy of course, and we aren’t set up in society to even entertain such a notion… but could you imagine what we’d be like if we did?

May God’s grace humble our hearts and minds, that we might see each other as siblings in Christ, equally loved, redeemed, and forgiven.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

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