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Come with Me if You Want to Live


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6 Responses

  1. Ivy says:

    Dear Pastor,
    I wanted to share my story with you. I have been christian all 37 years of my life. I have attended many different churches, usually Episcopalian or nondenominational like Grace. I have been attending Grace Polaris Church since 2011 but still yet not a member. I have 3 kids- a 4 year old, 2 year old and a one year old. Usually, we all come as a family but today the baby was sick so she stayed home with the hubby. I was desperate to come to church today. I was desperate to hear some healing words over the events on 8/12 in Charlottesville, VA. I could have waited for the sermon to be posted but I needed some comfort. So you can imagine the heartbreak as I sat there, listening with not just my ears and heart but with every being about Charlottesville, VA only to hear 2-3 sentences about the whole ordeal. less than a minute out of your entire sermon. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy or learn from your sermon but I did.
    You see, as a Black person, I’m used to non-Black churches talk about oppression and hatred of one race to another race in generalities or not at all. There are non White people in your audience on Sundays who need to hear a word of hope that their skin color is not rooted in darkness/evilness/demonic as the Bible eqauates with Black and White as angelic.
    So why am I saying something now? Because things are escalating and my church remains quite. Because yesterday, the target were Jews. As someone who was not alive during the Holocaust or the Jim Crow era, these are scary times. Very scary times. The nationalists who went there to do what they did are not in isolation. They have friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters, wives and girlfriends, parents and grandparents. Some may be my coworker- who knows. So for the church to be quiet or speak in generalities is truly nerve wrecking. What will my church say or do for me or my family should happen to us? Will they speak up then or will they offer condolences privately.
    Lastly, I am scared because the quietness from the church about this event and the events in this country over the past 1-2 years have profoundly shaken my belief in Christianity. I am praying very hard, hoping very hard to return to my naiveness that being a good, hard working Christian woman is enough.
    If you have read this far, thank you for time.

    • Beau Stanley says:

      Ivy,

      Thank you very much for your story, your feedback, and the respectful spirit in which you offered it. This helps me to be a better shepherd. Let me say at the outset that whatever response I can give comes from the perspective of someone who has not had the experience of being a person of color, but I hope that through honest expressions like the one you have given, I can learn a little more about your experience and be sensitive to it in future remarks.

      Regarding the length of my treatment of the events in Charlottesville, I understand your desire that I would have said more. In the sermon preparation process, my focus is heavily on the text of Scripture that I am studying, and cultural events, particularly those that happen very close to the presentation of the sermon, tend to be less central in my mind. Hearing of the Charlottesville events on Saturday as I did–in fact watching the more detailed news report as late as Saturday night–I included the incident as a component of an illustration I made, thinking this would be a good way to at least acknowledge what had happened. But I admit that my remarks were an acknowledgement rather than an analysis or commentary.

      Pastor Zac Hess is writing a blog post that will be available shortly that gives a fuller treatment of the event, and I do hope you find it helpful. In the meantime, let me say that the Gospel offers our only hope lasting hope to address racism, violence, oppression, and racial tension. Just as Jesus said that life could be found only in denying oneself, taking up one’s cross daily, and following Him, so too does Paul speak of the unity brought about only through people being united in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27-29; Ephesians 2:11-17). And I pray that today the Living God Himself will comfort your spirit in Jesus Christ. These are indeed difficult and even scary times, and hope is found only in the Savior who transcends the times.

    • Shellie says:

      Ivy- I also went to church on Sunday morning yearning for a comforting word about Charlottesville and all of the dispicable things that happenied on Saturday. The pastor of Vineyard, Rich Nathan did not disappoint. Please listen to his sermon from Sunday.

      • ivy says:

        Thanks for sharing this.

        • Elizabeth Farner says:

          Dear Ivy, It always grieves my spirit to know that my Black sisters and brothers are not feeling loved and comforted and belonged with their White sisters and brothers. As a White sister, my ears and heart heard a strong rejection of separation and hatred and thoughts of superiority and all acts expressing it. I am so sad that it did not minister to your heart as someone seeking comfort from outr God and his people at the church you have called home. I hope you will receive at least some comfort that the rebuke from Pastor Beau was probably heard by those who needed to hear it and that it was strong enough to offend any who did not accept it. Maybe that makes you more sad. Please continue in communication with our pastors. I know they want to lead well. And if you will permit, I would like to meet you.

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