Tuesday Notes

Dear First Pres Family,

Our world is complex. It is beautiful, engaging and amazing. It is also laden with pain, injustice and folly. If we are paying attention, it is not hard to be overwhelmed by it. Certainly the joys and challenges have been there since the beginning, but our access to information and thus awareness has magnified exponentially in recent decades.

How do you manage it all? How do you engage with this precious life while not being overtaken by the immensity of it all?

The recent weeks alone have seen an onslaught, particularly in our hemisphere: White nationalist/supremacist rally, counter protests and violence in Charlottesville; Hurricane Harvey and the Houston area; Monsoons in SE Asia; Hurricane Irma and Florida; Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico; deepening tensions with North Korea; and tensions related to protests over freedom of speech, racism, the National Anthem, the President and the NFL. And that is just to name a few, on the national and international levels.

I do find it overwhelming. I am quite sure that I am not alone. I can put my head in the sand. But I don’t find that to be any solution. I don’t live on a deserted island or a cabin deep in the woods, though I muse about such options.

But I am, first and foremost, a follower of Christ. My allegiance is to Him and he calls me to engage, to love my neighbor as myself. And so I try. I think about Houston or Puerto Rico and particularly the underprivileged people there with little to no safety net. I can at least give some money. And so I do, in each case, give to help. I can contact my governmental representatives and ask them to vote for a generous and wise response to the crisis and the needs, especially for the most vulnerable. And so I do.

I can watch on the news and be overwhelmed by it all. I can click over to “Law and Order” or “Modern Family” and let it go for a while; not always a bad thing to do. But better yet, I can stop and pray as I see the pain, suffering, loss, tension, fear, selfishness, compassion… And I can pray again, and again and again. I don’t do a great job, or a good job, or even a fair job at praying. But I do pray.

How about you? Can you pray, can you give, can you be a voice, can you give of your time in a helpful and constructive way to address the pressing needs of our time?

The sermon from Chris on Sunday was actually on prayer. If you missed it, or want a refresher, you can listen to it here. The central theme of that message was to pray, and specifically for wisdom, knowledge and insight. When I am overwhelmed by the times, I do well to simply stop and pray. And repeat. And yes, I do well to pray about the deep suffering and the injustice, but also to pray for wisdom and insight. Yes, pray for my wisdom in how to think and respond, but also to pray for wisdom for our church and the universal church and humanitarian response and for governmental leaders.

Sunday’s text was from Paul in Philippians 1:9-11: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.”

And Chris offered some timely small group questions too, now available on the church website; questions that encourage our prayer lives. They admonish us to prayerfully audit some key areas of our lives: whether it’s our response to this pained world, as I have encouraged here, or our leisure time, our thought life, our relationships, or our bank statement. Let us pray for wisdom and insight. Let us pray for us to approach all areas of our gift of life with the mind of Christ.

Jonathan Hancock
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care