Loving Our Opponents
Last week, I shared with you words of advice that John Wesley gave to the folks of his day in the midst of an election: to vote our conscience, not to speak evil against those we do not vote for, and not let the election affect our hearts and how we see and treat those we disagree with. Many of you have told me how meaningful, helpful, and challenging these words are during this bitter and seemingly endless campaign.
As I have reflected on these words myself, I have been convicted that, as challenging as they may be at times, they truly represent the bare minimum of what we as Christians are called to do - or largely not to do. After all, beside the advice to vote our conscience, the remaining two thoughts are things we are told to avoid. While refraining from negative talk about and feelings against our opponents may go against our human instinct, this amounts merely to "Do no harm to others." If we are able to bite our tongues and do no harm, is there any good that we are called to do in this current divided culture in which we find ourselves?
Recently, I read an argument by a theologian that one of the things that distinguished Jesus' teaching is that he told us to love our enemies. In the ancient world, there had been teachers that had suggested the importance of treating enemies with kindness - to treat even our enemies as we would we like to be treated, to be just and kind towards them, to be generous towards people different from ourselves. Yet Jesus may have been the first ever to go so far as to say we should actually love our enemies. While others had advocated the goodness of being kind and just toward others, no one had ever been recorded as saying we should actually change how we feel about them, especially to go as far as loving them.
What would it mean for us to not merely show justice and kindness to our political opponents but to actually love them? How can we move beyond merely refraining from harming them to actually loving them? I believe that one way to start is to pray for them - and I mean to really pray. I am not talking about praying that God will convince our opponents to join our side but to actually ask God to bless them however God sees fit - that God would give them grace, peace, joy, and a share of the good things of this world. We do not have to want for them to win power in order to wish God's best for them. For ourselves, we can ask God to help us to show love towards them and to open our hearts to seeing them as fellow children of God again.
May God bless us and bless our opponents that we might find unity in the common ground we share!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Walking with God
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12, 17-19
Abraham and Sarah heard God's call to leave their family and home behind and to go to a new land that God would show them. God promised that they would become the parents of a great nation and that all the world would be blessed by them. This carried within it an even more amazing promise that this older couple (Abraham was already seventy-five) would have a child, a legacy, a future. So they set out and walked to this promised land, and began a new journey of faith. Eighteen hundred years later, one of their descendants remembered their story and wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews of their faith and of how our own faith in Jesus should be like theirs in God. So what is faith? To have faith is first of all to believe, but this is more than simply saying yes to certain statements about who God is. The author of this letter claims that faith is confidence in our hope and assurance of what we do not see. This means that trust is at the heart of believing in God. It is more than what we say about God and includes what do because of who we think God is. So faith is just as much about what we do as it is about what we say, because, when we believe, we obey God just as Abraham and Sarah obeyed the call to go to another land. It was not enough that they trust in God's promise of a child and a new land. They had to go where God led them. But this one act of obedience in conjunction with their trust in God was not enough either. When they came to the land, they faced famine and went on to Egypt when they faced danger from those around them. Returning to the promised land, they waited for decades for the promise of a child. When that child finally arrived and the promise seemed fulfilled, Abraham faced the test of offering his son to God. Obedience is not the end of the story. When we believe and obey, we still have to persevere through the difficult challenges of life. Faith is believing, obeying, and persevering. May we all believe, obey, and persevere on our own journeys of faith!
Operation Christmas Child
Give a special gift this Christmas, and fill a shoebox for a child in need! There are two ways you can participate in Operation Christmas Child this year. You can take a box available in the sanctuary, fill it, and return by November 13th. We will also have a Packing Party on November 6th during Sunday School; you don't need to bring anything - just come help fill the 100 boxes we have set aside.
Living in Community
Thank you to everyone who helped the youth raise $3000 for mission projects!
Thank you to Jason for leading the praise band this week!
Thank you to all of our leaders for your time and energy in preparing for charge conference! Thanks to Dianna and Meg for sharing a devotional and a witness to the power of our ministry!
Welcome to Lee Obaugh, our new administrative assistant!
Prayers of Christian sympathy to the family and friends of Virginia Miller.
We are in need of another teacher for our monthly rotation of Children's Church.
If you are interested, please see Pastor Jim or Becky for more details.
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, October 25
9:00 - 11:45 - Office Hours
Wednesday, October 26
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Menu includes fried chicken and gingerbread with lemon sauce!
7:30 - Choir Practice
Thursday, October 27
9:00 - 11:45 - Office Hours
Sunday, October 30
9:30 am - Worship
Dinah Watson is preaching, and the RENEW Youth Band is leading music!
11:00 am - Sunday School
Fill the Field (Homelessness Awareness Youth Event) - November 5
Operation Christmas Child Packing Party - November 6
Chick-fil-A Spirit Week - November 7-11
MORE Worship led by PRUMC Youth - November 13
Drive-thru Nativity - December 9 & 10
Christmas Musical Program - December 18
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!