Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen 7-5-23

July 5, 2023

Dear Friends,

I received a text from a community member who, while not a member of FLPC, knows this congregation well. And the text began this way: “I continue to be amazed at all the great things coming out of FLPC.” To that I say, AMEN! I am so grateful to be a part of a faith family that is really trying hard to hold to what Christ commands and that works to be faithful even when we may not agree on what that looks like. In fact, I believe that a good part of the fruits of the spirit in this place grow precisely out of our attempts to love, respect, and listen to those with whom we disagree.

As I watch the heartbreaking splintering of the United Methodist Church and as I bewail the blindness that has caused the Southern Baptist Church to reaffirm their stance to prevent women from serving as pastors or even teach mixed group of teens or adults, I know that unity is very costly and difficult. And if unity among Christians is difficult, then unity as a nation seems even harder these days. As I think about the fall, I can’t say that I am looking forward (in any shape or form) to the division and rancor that election seasons seem to bring to our nation.
This weekend will be folded for many of us into the celebration of July 4th. For most of us, this nation affords remarkable opportunity. Yes, I believe that there is inequity. Yes, I believe that race and socioeconomics are topics that are complex and difficult to discuss and that, none the less, affect all of our everyday lives as Americans. And as we celebrate this anniversary of freedom from foreign rule for America, I am grateful for and humbled by the sacrifices that have been made so that I can live and worship in freedom [not to mention drive, have a bank account or vote]! And I take our responsibility to continue to extend that freedom and opportunity to others very seriously. And I pray that our national identity will provide enough unity to hold together a wonderfully diverse nation.

Christian unity is only found through the gift of grace we receive through Christ. Our unity is a gift from God, not something that we earn or work. Because we have been baptized into Christ, we are part of the Body of Christ – whether or not the other parts of the body like us or not! And it is our identity in Christ that is to be held more closely than any other identity. Our identity as Children of God – known, loved, forgiven, and redeemed through Christ – is more important than any other identity: our nationality, our race, our politics, our gender identity, or our socioeconomics. Those others are important, but they are not finally definitive in God’s eyes.

On this national holiday weekend, take time to give thanks for the opportunities and gifts of living in this nation, and then lift this nation and the world into God’s hands. Pray for every corner of our nation and world! And then, pray also for the Body of Christ – especially the parts that don’t like us. If there was ever a time when Christians need to be reminded of our unity in Christ, this is it. As Christians we are to live this unity even when there is political dis-unity in our nation. This fall, when the rhetoric heats up, remember that you and the person with whom you disagree have both been made in God’s image. Roman Catholic priest, Thomas Keating said, “Where there is unity, diversity is complementary.” Keep looking at the God who created and rules the universe and who sent Christ so that the “world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:17) Then, diversity and division will not make us afraid or tear the body apart. This commitment to unity might be a very important gift we can give to the country that has given us so much. To God alone be the glory.

See you in worship!

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