From the Pastor's Desk
Pastor's Message July 2020
Dear People of God at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church,
Dear People of God at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Hope you are all well and safe as you read this. I find myself saying that a lot to folks as I end my conversations: be safe. It has replaced have a nice day, or see you later. Be safe.
15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
I hope that amidst all these word from the Apostle Paul, he is not saying that we should not be held accountable for our actions. We have an excuse, so don’t hold my actions against me. I don’t know how far we can get with that. Paul does seem to say we know what we want to do, or want to be, we just can’t do it. We have some awareness, some sense, some direction that gets short circuited by sin. It is not like we are clueless or dense or just can’t see it. That is important during these times.
In conversations, mostly with colleagues, during this time of protest and marches and rallies, I have to admit I don’t see it, I am clueless and I am dense when it comes to ways, I, as a white, advantaged male have more than a leg up on many others. I don’t see my own racist tendencies, I didn’t have a very good working definition of what racism is and so I cannot even say “for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” because I don’t even know what the that is. That is how clueless many of us are. We just don’t see it. And maybe we don’t want to.
And maybe the reason we don’t is because we don’t want to give up the advantage we have. Maybe the reason we don’t want to is because we would have to reorient our whole way of thinking and acting. Maybe the reason we don’t want to is because we would have to give up the luxury of “being right” about others in our judgments of them. Maybe we don’t want to because then we would have to admit the many ways in which we have been complicit in the myriad of ways we keep others “in their place” in a very systemic way. And the problem is, we are so unaware of how we do that and so clueless that we think we couldn’t possibly do it. We who are advantaged have a lot to lose and, we think, not much to gain.
When what we have to gain is a brother or a sister whom we have made, many times ignorantly and many times intentionally, less than ourselves. What we have to gain is an authentic relationship based not on better or worse but equally valued and our wanting the best for them. What we have to gain is a new perspective on how to talk about, visit with, be aware of, and put into practice new ways of being in relationship and conversation that does not continue to promote our advantage in subtle and overt way. But how so much still gets in the way.
Paul ends the chapter with these words: 24Wretched man/person that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Who will rescue me indeed? Who will keep me safe from such thoughts and ideas and behaviors, both subtle and overt? I would hope we would not just count on Jesus Christ our Lord to bail us out. Maybe we/I need to do some of that hard work ourselves/myself, if we are serious about our need to be in harmony with all of God’s people.
God be with you ‘til we meet again.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at Swan's Trail 2020 Newsletters