Dear Westhope community,
God’s grace and peace be with you as we get into the full swing of fall. I was so excited to see the turn out for the BBQ last Sunday and so enjoyed seeing so many of us talking and laughing together. It speaks to me of some of the reasons I really enjoy this community as well as this time of year. I am so looking forward to our fall lineup of Spiritual growth opportunities and hope that they deepen and broaden our understanding of God as well as our relationships with one another. I am also aware that as hot as the BBQs were it seems like issues in our larger world are heating up as well. The two that stand out for me are the talk of possible war with North Korea and the ugly specter of racism once again front and center in the news. As I listen and as I pray I can’t help but think how God sees all this. I think God weeps at the prospect of war as so many of God’s beloved children would die. I think God weeps at the reality of racism that undermines so many lives and causes fear, demeans people, and often results in violence. All of this seems so clearly outside of what God envisions for this world and our larger community of human beings. This brings into stark contrast the ways of God and the ways of the world, and our challenge once more is to stay grounded in the ways of God and fight back the voices of division and hostility in the larger culture- especially when they try to creep into our consciousness. We must find a way forward in peace and justice and hope.
Whether our country’s leadership works to make it better or continues to speak words that divide us, I do think that this is a unique opportunity for us as Americans and as those who seek to be governed by a different set of spiritual values. The opportunity is this: ways of war, division, and racism have been drawn out into the open, what will we do with it and about it? Will we wring our hands and think about how awful it is or will we seek to speak out and act out to confront it whenever and wherever we can? One of the things about the life of Jesus that we read in scripture is that He was always speaking out for the poor and the oppressed. He was always taking on the powerful and challenging them to be just and faithful to something other than just their own sense of power. As followers of this Way I believe we are so called as well. We are in a time and a culture where the voice of the Spirit needs to be heard. We need to remember that the voice of the Spirit is constantly calling us towards unity, healing and wholeness. Let us be people who work diligently towards and in this Spirit. Our picnic at the end of October works beautifully to this end, and I hope that you will be able to join us to break bread with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters- to be an image of unity and a larger community of building bridges to new friends and wider community. The Living Room Conversations on the 4th Tuesdays of the month are geared for just this work as well. There are many opportunities each day. Find the small ones as well as working on the larger ones that we might show forth the Reign of God and God’s peaceful Kingdom here on earth. Blessings to you and your family as you listen for and hear your unique part of this great calling. I remain