Grace and peace,
As we awaken this morning, emotions run high. The even split among voters in the presidential race evidences the chasm within the country. Whether you awakened joyous or despondent this morning, it’s important to remember we continue to be bound together in Christ Jesus. As United Methodists, we share the joys and burdens of being brothers and sisters in Christ. The nation’s political system is one of regular reevaluation and peaceful transition of leaders and power.
Memorial UMC prides itself on being a family. Yet, members of Memorial’s family are deeply polarized. This is a truth within Memorial UMC and many churches that goes unspoken and, all too often, unaddressed. This morning, as the joy of some elicits pain in others, we must acknowledge this truth. Likewise, as the profound fear in some constrains the unbounded joy of others, we must also acknowledge this truth. I’m reminded of the first General Rule of The United Methodist Church – Do No Harm.
Several of you (on both sides of the political divide) expressed to me your deep concern about what America would become after the inauguration. The answer to that question, as it pertains to Memorial UMC and Poolesville, is in your hands. If you were a deeply committed follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, yesterday and put him first in your life, that will carry you safely through the tides of change and attendant undercurrents.
We remember this morning that God promises to be with us in times of tumult. In 1736, as John Wesley was transiting the Atlantic Ocean, a strong storm came up and it appeared the ship would be lost at sea. Wesley later recounted, “At seven I went to the Germans. I had long before observed the great seriousness of their behavior. Of their humility they had given a continual proof, by performing those servile offices for the other passengers, which none of the English would undertake; for which they desired, and would receive no pay, saying, “it was good for their proud hearts,” and “their loving Savior had done more for them.” And every day had given them occasion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the Spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger, and revenge. In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterwards, “Were you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die. From them I went to their crying, trembling neighbors, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial, between him that fear God, and him that fear him not. At twelve the wind fell. This was the most glorious day which I have hitherto seen.”
So, this morning, I encourage you to be a Christian first – praising God and trusting in Christ. We are all afloat in the same boat -- together. Whatever the storm, God is with us. In every age, Christians have had to discern how to faithfully follow Jesus Christ in their context and time. This is our continuing task. But today, recommit to following the path of our Lord Jesus regardless of political winds or currents.
Love one another -- tenaciously. Shelve pride and tamp down fear. Cling to what endures – the love and peace that passes all understanding through Christ!
Your pastor in Christ,