A Letter to My Kids After the U.S. Election

This is the letter I wrote after the recent election to my kids who are living in the US.

Dear Rahel and Kaleb,

I write to you with a heavy heart.  I’m saddened for you, for our family, and for our country.  There have been difficult elections in our nation’s history but it seems this time that Trump, and sometimes Clinton, were the ones making things worse instead of better.cyb2ayuweaqwjtx-jpg_large

Here are 6 points to help you wrestle through this:

1 – It’s OK to lament the current state of politics in the US right now. I think everyone agrees this was not a proud time for America.  One of the great freedoms we have as Americans is the right to speak our mind and let others know what we think.  You don’t have to hide your opinions, but you do need to be respective of those who differ from you.  Sometimes it’s better just to keep quiet so that you can have peace.  Other times, you better be out marching, writing letters, and having intense, intellectual discussions with those around you.

2 – There are going to be people with whom you disagree with on political issues.  This does not mean that they are not Christians, that they are racist or sexist, that they hate the poor, or that they are greedy and prideful.  There are thoughtful people who love Jesus on both sides – Republican and Democrat.  God is calling you to give people the benefit of the doubt.  We must think the best of people if at all possible – this is part of what it means to live by grace.

3 – You need to remember that your relationships with your family and friends are way more important than winning any political argument.  This doesn’t mean we can’t talk about issues with family or friends but be very careful with your words.  And in the end, you need to love even if you disagree.

4 – The American political system encourages the citizens to look for a messiah.  We saw the same thing 8 years ago when Obama was elected, as Democrats were overjoyed that they now had the power.  And yet life goes on; America still has it’s problems.  Watch out when you get too emotional about politics. It’s a sign you are setting yourself up for problems.

5 – Thoughtful people know that it’s not just about one person – there are political principles at stake which go beyond Trump and Clinton.  This is why Trump was such a nightmare for some Christians.  They hold conservative political principles – fine – but disliked the person at the top of the Republican party. With Clinton, they were faced with a candidate whom they didn’t respect nor did they think that the Democratic political principles were best for the country in the long run.

6 – I know it seems easy to say that God is still in control when life doesn’t seem to be working the way you think it should, but it’s still true!  Our faith should give us hope for the future.  And real hope doesn’t come from a politician – Trump or Clinton or anyone else.  My prayer is that you have real hope that comes from knowing that your Father in Heaven is leading you and our country.

I know this feels like our country is going backwards on race issues and the like.  And maybe it is.  Or maybe Trump has exposed the divisions which were already there and he’s given an opportunity for them to be exposed.

But it is a wonderful honor and responsibility to hold that passport with USA on it.  We should be thankful that America is a country that is generally ruled by laws which apply to everyone, even though we know there have been, and continues to be, significant areas of injustice.  Let’s be thankful for where God has placed us and work to make it better – for us, for our family and friends, and for the world.

I love you two dearly,

Dad

A Glimmer of the Kingdom

This Sunday was an atypical but typical day of worship at New City.  When I walked into the room a few minutes before the service, after teaching our new adult education class, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of our neighborhood homeless men sitting quietly waiting for the service to begin.  Dante (not his real name), is Italian, in his mid-sixties and has a big white beard.

During the sermon, Dante started to make comments loud enough for everyone to hear.  Pretty soon it was awkward enough that I had to stop and let him know that I would love to talk more over the dinner, but he needed to be quiet for now.  As I continued to preach and mentioned the name of Jesus, Dante would yell out “Jesus isn’t real!!” as Oong (our pastoral assistant) and others tried to calm him down.  Finally, Oong escorted Dante out as he was just too disruptive.

I was a little shaken but managed to finish my sermon as planned.  As we sang our final song, I began to formulate a few words for God’s people before communion.  I shared how we are all broken like our friend, Dante.  If we think we’re so much better than a poor homeless man, than we don’t understand the gospel and we’re not ready to receive the Lord’s Supper.

On Monday, I received this note from one of our regulars:
I just wanted to say how proud and encouraged I was to be a part of the body of Christ last night. Seeing how each of you cared for a broken man in the public view of God’s people was a glimmer of the Kingdom of God breaking into this world and it was much needed for my heart this week, and I’m sure for others as well.
Your words during Communion, Chris, cut to the quick just as the passage you spoke on and I was convicted of my self righteous heart against those that I consider broken in America, and in this city. Thank you for giving us all courage to continue doing the difficult work of loving moment to moment, and the renewed faith that our God is good and will keep his promises, in and through his church!
 
I was encouraged – that’s for sure!  And I pray that you too may occasionally see “a glimmer of the Kingdom of God breaking into this world.” 
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