Dear Resurrection Family,
I’ve had several of you send me videos in the last week expressing concern or fear about potential violence at state capitols, the inauguration, some of the conspiracy theories out there and concerns about what is sometimes called White Christian Nationalism. I’d like to offer a few thoughts on these things at the conclusion of today’s enote, so if you are interested, read to the end.
But first, I’d like to tell you where we’re heading this weekend in worship, starting with an invitation to Chiefs fans to wear your Chiefs’ gear to worship (I know, it’s not the same since we are not in person, but I’ll be wearing my jersey to worship this weekend)!
Have you ever struggled with things you’ve read in the Bible? If you read the work of some of the most outspoken atheists, you’ll find that they have and do. Some Christians struggle too.
I’ve had a number of you ask, “Why does the God of the Old Testament seem vengeful or cruel?” Others have asked, “Must we take every story literally?” Or, “What do we do about the contradictions in scripture?” Or, “Why did the Bible allow slavery? Teach the subordination of women?” There are many other questions I’ve fielded over the last 30 years serving as your pastor.
I’ll answer some of these questions this weekend as we consider the things that trip people up in the Bible, then we’ll focus on what the Bible is and is not. Finally, we’ll look at how we read these challenging passages, and all the beautiful ones, and why, despite the challenging passages, this book is our sacred text through which Christians hear God speak.
Join us this weekend for Making Sense of the Bible (a 30-minute version of a 300-page book I wrote several years ago by the same name!).
Worship with us at cor.org/live tomorrow at 5 pm or Sunday at 7:30 am, 9:15 am, 11 am or 5 pm – you’ll be able to select from modern or traditional worship styles. You can also join us on our YouTube channel and subscribe. Or join us on television if you live in Kansas City on KMCI, Channel 38, at 8 or 11 am. All times are Central Time Zone. For a listing of where KMCI is found on various cable providers, click here.
For those of you who were not able to join us for worship last weekend, I wanted to let you know the total given in the Christmas Eve offering.
This offering goes to support partnerships, ministries and programs benefitting low-income children and families in Kansas City and in the developing world. In 2019, as a congregation, you gave $1,483,000. This year, you gave $2,221,000.
The impact of these funds, which are scheduled to fund projects over a three-year period, is incalculable. A major focus will be on early childhood education for under-resourced communities. I’m so very proud of you and your generosity and am grateful for the impact it will have.
If you are interested in getting involved in serving the community, go to our Local Impact page on the website where you’ll find current opportunities as well as contacts you can reach out to with questions.
Last weekend we spoke about the power of agape – of selfless kindness – in healing the world. This weekend is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. We’ll offer a host of ways you can get involved, become better educated, and practice kindness in serving others.
I met yesterday with all of our pastors on a Zoom call talking about the events of this last week in Washington, D.C. I was particularly struck by the witness of four of our pastors, each a person of color, as they described how the events at the capitol affected them. The sight of confederate flags, swastikas and nooses among some who attacked the capitol, the presence of known white supremacists, and the disparity between how this group of protestors was met versus the show of force against those protesting racial injustice this summer all pointed not only to political issues, but to the racism that continues to permeate our society. Many who were white saw only the violence and mayhem in the attack on our capitol. Many people of color saw a deeper evil that added to their pain that day.
I’d like to invite you to join me this Martin Luther King Weekend as we view the holiday not as a “day off,” but as a “day on.” I’d like to invite you to do at least one thing to intentionally learn, to spread kindness, and to work to combat racism. We’ve got service activities for the family that you can do at home, videos and films you can watch, Martin Luther King Day worship services you can join online, and ways you can come out and serve with others in a socially distanced way.
Join us either Saturday, January 16, or Monday, January 18. When you go to our website (cor.org/MLK) you will find opportunities and details.
Serve by learning more about what each of us can do to work for racial justice in our communities. We have articles to read, videos to watch, and conversation starters for families and groups listed on our website: cor.org/MLK. You can also learn more about getting involved with Allies for Racial Justice, our partnership with St. James UMC to forge authentic relationships to eliminate the existing racial divide in our communities and churches.
The weekend will conclude on Monday with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Greater Kansas City Dr. King Celebration. This is a free, virtual event at 5:30 pm. Register here for the Zoom link.
If you have third graders, please register them here by January 19 so we can make sure their third grade Bible is delivered to them before our special celebration on Sunday, January 31. That Sunday afternoon, I’ll join our third graders for a special Zoom call from 1-2 pm. I can’t wait to be able to see these third graders and share this important milestone with them! Register today so they don’t miss out.
If you consider Resurrection your church family but you haven't officially joined yet, or if you've been worshipping with us online for a little while and would like to know more about the history and mission of our church and what it means to be a member of the Church, join me Sunday, January 31, at 2 pm for a virtual Coffee with the Pastors Zoom call.
At this informal session, you’ll learn more about our beliefs, our mission and vision, as well as ways to serve, connect and grow in your faith. After a break, you’ll have the opportunity to join Resurrection.
Here’s the link to learn more and register.
Don’t wait to register for the 2021 Women’s Conference on February 19-20. From 6:30–9 pm on Friday and 8:30 am – 1 pm on Saturday, you’ll join women from across the country to worship, learn, connect and inspire one another. Check out the seven amazing speakers and register today on their website: inspiredforlifeconference.org. Your registration gives you the full conference experience and content and includes on-demand access to the speaker messages for three months. Invite a friend to join you!
We are in the process of launching new small groups that will begin meeting the week of February 1. Resurrection small groups are communities of 5-15 people who meet regularly for spiritual growth and connection. Some groups are online only, and others will meet in person when COVID rates improve.
During this launch, your initial commitment is four months, with the possibility to continue as a group after that. You can go to groups.cor.org to find a group that meets your needs and request to join.
If you have questions about small groups, please email Melanie Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
70% of Americans are aware of conspiracy theories floating around today, and 20-30% seem to have embraced some elements of one or more theory. At one point, during the last week of his life, Jesus said to his disciples, “See that you are not deceived.” He warned that false messiahs and false prophets would come. It was interesting that he felt he had to warn even his disciples who had spent three years with him because he knew they, too, could be deceived.
Today conspiracy theories often cloak themselves in Christian faith. QAnon is one of these. It seems so absurd it’s hard to imagine that people believe it. QAnon accuses their political enemies of being satan worshipers that do things so heinous that, if you really believe these things, you’d have to fight to stop them. Q followers see in our national politics a battle between good and evil, and they saw President Trump as the champion of good they believed would lead a “Storm” in which the evil people (largely Democrats and some moderate Republicans) would be arrested and some even put to death. Some Christians have been drawn into this heresy. The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat. Take the time to research this group and what they believe. I’d remind you of the words of Jesus, “See that you are not deceived.”
Last week in D.C., just before several thousand people pushed aside the barricades at the Capitol, Christian music blared from one group. Another group, the Proud Boys knelt to pray before they marched up the stairs and into the Capitol. There were Christian signs and crosses held by those who joined them, presumably “in the name of Jesus.” In this scene, Christianity had merged with something most unchristian. This is what Christian Nationalism can look like. Again I hear Jesus saying, “See that you are not deceived.”
Many of the new extremist groups have followed the pattern of the old KKK, who merged Protestant Christianity, white supremacy and nationalism. They support causes that are the antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ but in the name of Jesus. How do we discern in situations like this? I mentioned last Sunday, we look to see if the rhetoric and the actions align with what Jesus said was the defining mark of the Christian life: Love. We turn to 1 Corinthians 13 to see if the rhetoric and the actions reflect Paul’s powerful words: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.”
Many are on edge today. I’ve been hearing from some of you. Will there be attacks on state capitols? Perhaps, but I suspect largely peaceful and mostly small protests around the time of the inauguration. Will there be violence as Joe Biden becomes president? I hope not, but if there is, I don’t believe it will be widespread. There’s a video circulating on social media from a supposed prophet in Kentucky saying that the President will impose martial law and that Christians should be prepared. I don’t believe that the President will be imposing and if he did, no one would follow this directive.
Here’s the thing I’m driving towards: Just because someone uses religious rhetoric, claims to be a prophet, or quotes scripture, don’t believe them. Even the devil quoted scripture, and to Jesus nonetheless! You don’t need to be afraid. See that you are not deceived. And let’s pursue the path of love and justice, working to ensure that our words and actions mirror the life and teachings of Jesus, and align with Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 13. I’m reminded, on this Dr. King weekend, of his words, “Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Looking forward to seeing you in worship this weekend as we focus on Making Sense of the Bible!
In Christ’s Love,
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