August 17, 2017

I was hoping to pen an optimistic paragraph this week on the topic of “Openness.” After all, it’s a week of many new beginnings. Our local schools have embarked on a new academic voyage. Elmhurst CRC is hosting FEST, a big outdoor ministry-kick-off party on Sunday. But somewhere along the way, the more significant and mortifying events of Charlottesville, Virginia have made these bright new beginnings pale in comparison. Alas, it seems our incivility and anger have become the bulbs that burn brightest.

I’m not writing merely to add my voice to the chorus of those of who are condemning what is clearly wrong. Nor am I writing to gently remind us that where human beings are concerned, folks are neither 100% pure evil or 100% pure angelic.

However, the more I read and listen in the aftermath of these devastating events, the more I’m convicted that the way forward is to be found in significant moral and personal reflection. I keep asking, “Why are we so uncivil toward each other? Why am I thinking so many uncivil thoughts? What are we really so angry about these days? Why does it feel so rewarding to have ‘just causes’ to unleash my anger?”

These questions pushed up an old anecdote about Roman Catholic thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton. When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:

Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely Yours,
G. K. Chesterton

This is a hopeful line of thinking. It’s a response that demonstrates the open heart of a human who’s been touched by the Gospel and spent significant time with Jesus. I humbly suggest following the Chesterton mode the next time you find yourself ready to yell at the Chicago Tribune or MSN or Fox News or HuffPost or whatever it is you read and watch.

Here’s how it works: The temptations rises and you ask, “What’s wrong here?!?!” Answer: I am.

In weirdly related news, there’s an eclipse coming! In previous ages, an eclipse of this magnitude was viewed as an ill omen. The sun goes dark, the temperature drops, strange winds begin to blow in the middle of the day. I’m tempted to think that this current eclipse is partly to blame for the state of our smoldering hostility. But… no. The problem is me.

There was another eclipse that ultimately gives me hope for the future and hope for a blameworthy like myself. On a Friday 2,000 years ago, the sun went dark one afternoon on a Jerusalem hill. The temperature dropped. Birds and beasts went quiet. Even the humans shut up for an awed moment. A man died. Shortly thereafter, strong soldiers pushed a huge, disc shaped stone over the opening to his tomb. The final eclipse of burial.

By some mysterious working of a power greater than that of a thousand suns, three days later, the stone disc was pushed away and there erupted from the darkness the Light of the World. The eclipse was over. The tomb was opened. Jesus, alive.

This is the story that is truer than whatever rottenness and incivility we can cook up. It is truer than my own personal flaws and selfishness. It’s the story that creates openness--a crack at the edge of a darkened soul--for the sun to shine in.

So, I’m becoming open. Open to being wrong. Open to change. Open to learning. And I’m proud to be part of a community that is practicing the same.

As of Sunday, we are officially open for fall business. Two worship services: 9 and 10:30 a.m. A bunch of Bible studies and great activities and a new year of Little Lambs. Open. A massive party on Sunday afternoon to share one simple message: “We’re Open!”

Pastor Gregg

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