On Mondays the church I attend, Floris United Methodist Church, has invited me to contribute a “sermon response.” I share today’s here: (for those of you reading from a distance, the Pastors are Tom Berlin (aka Tom), Tim Ward (aka Tim) and Barbara Miner (not mentioned today but she will be Barbara :)). To listen to the sermon click here.
One of the things I love about Floris church is that the pastors try very hard to prepare us for the world that will greet us when we pile out the door. Even beginning with the prayer time.
Tom asked us to bring to mind someone we love who we wanted to pray for. I immediately thought of dedicated Christian friends who have recently lit up Facebook over the stand Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy took regarding same sex marriage. In the same prayer breath I thought of the email plea I had just gotten from the Christian conservatives, in the guise of Franklin Graham, rallying us to stand with Chick-fil-A because it is “under attack from same-sex marriage advocates.”
I wonder whether these two sides are speaking to each other, or if they are just speaking up. I would like to reply to each one, but the tone they have taken leaves me feeling they are interested in support not moderation. I wonder how they are praying for each other. They are bitter enemies.
Just in the nick of time this is the scripture we were meant to consider in worship…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:43-45″
This, Tim Ward told us, is what distinguishes us as Christians. In fact we are commanded to love those who don’t love us. I find that incredibly hard. But what if I pray for them, that is, what if I lift them in prayer into the presence of Love and let God love them even if they don’t look very likeable to me? even and especially when they are not acting very likable toward one another. I expect I might start to see them very differently. Perhaps they would see each other so.
That is my challenge today because the way I look at it if as Christians we don’t pray for our Christian “enemies” and allow that to change the way we relate to one another, the agnostics and the atheists can just sit back and let our anger do their job for them. They need do nothing but watch and chuckle as we implode.
And they are not the only ones watching. In the midst of the fracas I need to explain all this to the young adults in my life who are looking on and saying, “If church acts like that, I don’t want to have any part in it.” One of them recently posted a link on my Facebook wall entitled, “It’s not about the Chicken.” I’m giving thanks today, as I do everyday, that we can be in conversation.