Tuff Stuff

February 7, 2020

This Sunday, Pastor Gregg will begin our three-week “Tough Stuff” sermon series. Each week, he will preach on issues surrounding the dignity of life, gender and sexuality, and politics.

In many ways, I’m excited: I LOVE hearing or reading topics that spark deeper thoughts and conversations — which, I trust these will! But in a couple ways, I’m nervous. Not because of the parental warning labels that accompany these sermons. Nor because I worry people will get angry about what is or isn’t said (this happens often….).

No, when I think about it too much, butterflies start when I wonder how people will FEEL hearing these messages. After all, there are women in this church who have had abortions. There are men in our pews who have paid for or encouraged abortions. There are men and women who regret these decisions — and are burdened with guilt and shame. There are men and women who believe the choice was the right one — no matter how difficult.

There are people in this church who don’t readily identify as one gender or the other. There are people who are not attracted to the opposite sex — or to the opposite sex only. And there are those of us (most of us, probably) with friends or family members, people we love, who identify as LGBTQ+.

There are those of us who’ve been wounded by the Church over these issues. And because of this, who because of past hurts, no matter what any pastor says and no matter how gracious the message, we hear through the filters of our (often raw) experiences.

Thus, sermons like this risk hurting us all over again.

That’s why I’m a little nervous.

However, far from wanting to hurt anyone, I know the purpose of these sermons is quite the opposite. Because the very same sensitive and powerful issues — that threaten to hurt us are also often the very things that can help heal us. At least, they can when we press into them with the deep love of God the Father, the peace and grace of Christ the Son, and the wisdom of the Holy Ghost.

This, of course, is how Pastor Gregg prepares and preaches his messages — and how I’m praying we hear these messages. In doing so, I hope that no matter what our experience with, views on, or personal connection to these topics is, that we can all participate in this series with open hearts and open minds, with our eyes set on the redeeming and unifying love of Jesus Christ. And I hope that this series begins a healing process between communities and as individuals. In fact, I believe it will.

But still: if these sermons bring up pain or questions or stir up long-buried feelings or thoughts, I encourage you to reach out — to one of the pastors or to me. We are happy to talk or listen — all matters are confidential.

For what it’s worth my view on most of these topics are “complicated,” as they say. Though once I saw the Big Issues of the world in sharp black and white, as pure good or evil, I no longer can or do. At least, not since the good, harsh work of God stripped me of (much of) my judgmentalism and left me with sensibilities that run toward love and grace — on many matters, including these.

Peace in the meantime —
Caryn Rivadeneira
Director of Care and Worship Planning

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