Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letter to the Editor Report

The Johnson City Press should pay me for this service. In Tuesday's paper, they printed a number of letters that took Rev. Terry Jackson to task for his claim that it is God's will that we drill the earth for cash.

You can read those letters here. I am proud of our locals for this. By the way, if you are near our mountain come to ETSU tomorrow for the Earth Day celebration. Read about it here.

And in today's paper, we find the first trickle of what could be a stream of letters about our local PFLAG chapter starting up. From one writer in response to the Press' question about whether our nation is moving in a good direction:

I have mixed feelings about the direction in which we are moving. This is a great country and there are only two things I love better: my lord and savior Jesus Christ and my family. Undoubtedly we have serious problems, but the problems I see are probably not the ones others would think of.

Spiritually we have been bankrupt for a while and it gets worse daily. I saw there is a move afoot to form a formal organization to benefit homosexuals and other “fringe” groups aligned with them. Let me reiterate: I do not hate homosexuals. I hate the sin they commit — not the person. This is biblical and there is no debate on that.

I hope people would have compassion for these misguided people. I am deeply disappointed that a local clergyman finds it expedient to align himself with this group. I must be reading a different Bible than these people. We need to respect the person but condemn the sin they commit.

My sermonette:

Don't be discouraged, beloveds, about those who will write hurtful things. Advocacy is not for the faint of heart. It is for those who have a heart for the hurting. Melanie (who was interviewed with us in the Press article) commented on my blog entry about the Bible:

i had a customer come in the shop the other day, she had recognized me in the paper. i braced myself...but the only comment was that she had brought me a copy in case i had not gotten one for myself. it was a wonderful moment. :)

Savor those wonderful moments. My rule of thumb is that for every negative letter or e-mail, there are one hundred others even if we may never see or hear from them who will benefit.

A final thought. It will be important not to demonize the opposition. This is not a matter of either/or but ultimately both/and. I wrote about this in a sermon a week ago Sunday. I think what those students did nearly 50 years ago at Fisk University in Nashville is a model for our advocacy today:

We watched a film. One of the sections was about the lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville. Lunch counters were segregated. Students at Fisk University set out to change that. They were able to make the change, in large part, because they did not demonize their opponents.

The goal was not to tear down the city but to build it up into what it could become. The goal was not to call the power structure racist and be satisfied with a certain sense of superiority. The goal was for all to recognize the hurt that segregation caused, and to build a new community in which all participate regardless of skin color.

The goal of active non-violence is the redemption of everyone. The scene that I found most touching and healing in the film, was when finally, the students had the attention of the mayor. After several months of sit-ins, publicity, arrests, finally, on the steps, I believe it was of the courthouse, one of the students politely and assertively asked the mayor, in front of the television cameras. “Do you think segregated lunch counters are just?”

The mayor said, “No.” And both of them smiled. It wasn’t a question of either/or—either us or you, but both you and us. Active non-violence is about change over the long haul. It is not about winning or losing, but about restoration.