notes from Pastor Jimmy

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Summer Heat Again

Summer Heat Again

It is hot today as I write this article. It is so hot that I am running both the air conditioning and a fan. It is just too hot and we have not even seen the real heat of summer yet. It is coming though and you may begin to see its familiar signs. People are a little more likely to blow their horns. Lines at the store are less cordial. Summer heat has a funny way of bringing out our divisions and our willingness to argue about them. When we are tired and hot we are irritable. 

The climate of our culture seems to have been experiencing summer heat for several years. People seem more willing to disagree, argue, and insult then we are to understand and forgive. The Church is no different. This, too, is nothing new. From the very beginning, the Apostles had disagreements and debates. However, what we find particularly in the Book of Acts was a willingness to seek understanding and find common ground on which to continue to serve together. 

John Wesley, who is largely responsible for the Methodist movement, lived his whole life experiencing these disagreements. He faced physical threats of death for his views and was banned from many pulpits in the beginning of his “Methodist” ministry. In fact, the word “Methodist” was meant as an insult against those Christians who sought to live holy lives, because they were said to believe they had a method of salvation. Today, John Wesley is celebrated not only in Methodism but also in the Church of England as a reformer. While Wesley certainly disagreed with many, he always believed in what he called the “catholic spirit.” 

Wesley was well aware that loving, caring people were capable of disagreement, but he believed that we could agree on the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Wesley used the word catholic in its original sense. He meant it as a universal unity. For Wesley, it was love that allowed people with disagreements to not just tolerate each other but to grow in understanding and love of each other and to work together for the kingdom of God. When it gets really hot and my irritability is up, I try to remember how love demands I care for the heat and irritability of my neighbor. In this way, I remain part of Christ’s Church, which is not yet perfect, but is perfectly capable of living out the Kingdom of God in diverse ways by the grace of God.

I hope this month you will join me in being aware of our heat and being aware of Christ command to love. This month we will have the opportunity to read the Book of Acts together. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to read, study, and pray. 

May the God of love open our minds, cool our Spirits, and lead us down new paths of understanding and love. 

Cooling down, 

Pastor Jimmy Hendricks,

Hurting But Not Hopeless

Recently, my family and I went camping. We went to get out of the house. Camping was to let us stay out of crowds but still have some time to be away and rest. We have not camped in our camper since last year, but theoretically the trip was going to be easy. We just needed to pack, pick up the camper with my truck, drive to the campground, and try to enjoy nature. So here is what really happened: We got a late start with packing and driving, but we made it to the campground by late afternoon. In setting up the camper, we discovered that there was a terrible smell in the camper. It was one of those rotten egg smells. After some accusations, we discovered it was the hot water heater. While investigating that problem, I also discovered the sink was leaking heavily. We were not too deterred yet. We just cut off the water. I mean, it is camping after all. We ate dinner late and went to bed.

In the middle of the night, the power went out, which is not the end of the world but it was also storming. Everyone else had power in the campground, so I began to worry it was due to water reaching electricity. That is a big deal, so when morning finally came, I set about trying to find what was wrong. I had to venture out to get parts. During the first full day of our two day trip I repaired leaks, fixed a hot water heater, and solved the electrical problem. My wife and kids enjoyed their time swimming and painting river rocks. That night when I was done, my wife said she was so sorry I had spent the whole the day repairing things. I have thought a lot about that since. I was not sorry.

I think I was not sorry because there was a problem I was able to fix. I can fix a camper, but I cannot fix covid-19. I cannot simply get the right tool to make things better. I cannot get people back to work or heal all those who have suffered or died. I cannot fix racism or hate. I cannot bring back George Floyd or any of the other countless victims of hate. If this time of isolation has taught me anything, it has taught me that I can feel helpless. 

My only answer is God. By the grace of God, I can do my part to keep others safe from covid-19. By the grace of God, I can help those who are out of work. By the grace of God, I can walk with those who suffer. By the grace of God, I can work against systems of racism and hate that still exist. By the grace of God, I can repent for all the ways I have failed to live into God’s call upon my life. By the grace of God, I can work for and anticipate the fullness of God’s Kingdom where sickness, sadness, and death will be no more. I can anticipate and work for the Kingdom where all will be welcomed, but sin and death will have no power. 

I am trying. I am praying. I am crying out for God’s presence. And I am not giving up. God is not done with us either. There is more to be done. As I write today, I pray for every person who will read this little newsletter article. I pray that, if you feel helpless, you will remember God. I pray that during these difficult times, instead of wallowing in hopelessness or ignoring the pain of others, you will instead remember Christ who showed us that love can transform. I hope you will remember that God turned the death of Jesus into eternal life. I hope you will remember resurrection. I hope you will remember that God called us to carry the message of love and hope into the world. I believe that God can fix this world and that we are the tools. 

Praying God will use me, 

Pastor Jimmy Hendricks