Loving Our Neighbor
A recent Pearce Reads is Edward Gilbreath’s Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity. While the author acknowledges that there has been “significant progress” in race relations in America, he also feels that “to break out of the white cultural status quo of today’s evangelical movement, we must confront hard truths about ourselves.”
The past several Wednesday evenings, our seminar “Loving Our Neighbor of a Different Race” has been examining the history of racial relations and confronting hard truths. The final session in this seminar is an opportunity to hear from a panel of distinguished and gifted African-American pastors from our area. They are:
- Rev. Dr. Marlowe Washington, pastor of the historic Parsells Church
- Rev. Fred Johnson, pastor of First Genesis Church
- Rev. Imani Olear, pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church
- Denis Johnson, pastor of creative arts, music, and teaching at The Father’s House
Pearce’s own Brian Babcock will serve as the facilitator for this stimulating and challenging evening of dialogue. Join us at 6:30pm this coming Wednesday (March 1) in the Friendship Center.
All Who Wander
One of my favorite t-shirts is an old one that says “All who wander are not lost!” The shirt embraces, at least in my view, the idea that we take a circuitous path on our life’s journey. We often end up in places where we never expected to find ourselves. In that sense, wandering can be quite delightful and even desired!
But there are wanderings that are painful and we end up in places where we feel quite lost. Not pleasantly detoured, but truly lost and alone. (I selected a photo from the Pearce group traveling this week in Israel. They began their journey in the wilderness of the Negev.)
This weekend, I’ll be considering the 13th and 14th chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers. The theme of my message can be summarized this way: “When we choose to go our own way instead of God’s, He goes with us into the wilderness, and graciously leads us back to His purposes.”
I hope you’ll join us as we continue to be shaped by God’s Word!
I’ve placed two new books on the “Pearce Reads” display in Pearce’s lobby. I selected them as possible resources for you during the Lenten period that begins on March 1.
I love finding devotional books to aid me in my daily walk with Christ. I recently picked up a copy of Walter Brueggemann’s new devotional titled A Way Other Than Our Own. Brueggemann is a prolific Old Testament scholar, well known to seminary students. But don’t let his academic credentials prevent you from utilizing this slim book in the coming weeks. Each day is marked by a scripture reading, a thoughtful reflection and a brief prayer.
I also recently came across Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Trish Harrison Warren. Do not let the word “liturgy” in this book’s title mislead you or put you off. This is a refreshing and winsome reflection on everyday chores and how they can draw us closer to the Lord. Warren, an Anglican pastor, writes about the common elements of daily life, such as brushing our teeth or sitting in traffic, and how such small moments can help us pay closer attention to God’s presence in our lives.
Copies of both books are available for modest donations ($13 for Brueggeman’s and $9 for Warren’s) and will be available for the next few weeks.
Last week, I received of Scott Lewis’ first-hand account of a recent experience that left him dangling…literally. It’s a bit longer than my typical Dangling article, but well worth your time!
A friend encouraged me to share an incident I experienced recently.
My wife and I were enjoying a quiet weekend together at a lake in mid-January. We woke Saturday morning and, after a simple breakfast together, I decided to check the ice thickness and wind in hopes of going ice boating (fuselage, 3 runner blades, and sail). I drilled several holes, all 5″ thick. There were over a dozen ice fishermen and shanty’s south, a quad and more ice fishermen north, I’m good to go.
After a few laps across the lake and back, the left runner breaks through the ice and the boat comes to an abrupt stop. The left side of the boat sinks through the ice tipping me out, and I’m in ice water up to my neck, the water depth being about fifteen to twenty feet deep. In an instant, I was facing one of my most dreaded fears! (You can’t survive long in ice water and it is often tricky to impossible to get out.)
The water was so shocking it forced an involuntary “UGH!” from the depth of my lungs. Several thoughts came to me at once: God help me. Is this how it ends? The feeling of humiliation and embarrassment for missing something that allowed me to be in such a dangerous situation, and please don’t let Esther see this!
I was hanging on to the edge of the ice to prevent the weight of my soaked winter clothing and boots from pulling me under. My first attempt to pull myself up and onto the ice failed quickly. Water on ice is slippery, and you can’t get your center of gravity past the ice edge before slipping back in the water.
I hear my wife yell, “Scott, are you OK?” Now I’m troubled with the thought that whatever happens will be in the audience of my tormented wife, who would be able to do next to nothing but watch. “I’m OK!” (Not true!)
Esther couldn’t hear me, I was facing away from her. “Scott, are you OK!” The ice boat was mostly on top of the ice, tipped sideways. The ice was thick around me. I broke through a small pocket about the size of a small car that had not frozen over completely. At risk of pulling the ice boat into the water with me, I grabbed it and was able to pull myself out of the water. Saved.
The whole incident lasted only a moment.
I’m most grateful. Things don’t always work out this way, but I chose not to live in fear of the “what ifs”: What if the thin ice had covered a large area? What if the ice kept breaking under my weight as I tried to pull myself up? What if the ice boat was not there to grab onto? What if I died? Though situations like this can be alarming, I have learned over time to place my faith and trust in God. Now, each new challenge I face is another opportunity for deeper trust and faith. I don’t need to know the answer to the “why” questions, I am content to know “what!” God loves me and will never leave me or forsake me.
I have learned to “number my days”; that day was not my last. Someday, there will be a different outcome. I have the assurance that on that day “faith will be sight,” and “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I don’t know why things happen either for good or for bad, but I have learned to “give thanks in all circumstances.” I hope my “ugh” story encourages you to a deeper trust and faith in God.