Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Evening Musings

Church was edifying and comforting today.

I went to two churches this morning. I attended the early service at the church to which I and my family belong. At 11:00 am, I attended another church to have a conversation with a pastor, whose church is in South Dallas, where Central Dallas Ministries wants to do some work.

My pastor preached a message that spoke to our members' insecurities, given our country's current state of affairs. And, before some of you jump to conclusions, he did so without mentioning government, or blaming the president (in fact, never mentioned him) or either presidential candidate.

He encouraged us to trust in God, radically, although it may look as if we will go down with our faith. He told us that many of us have trusted in the wrong things and if we continue to place our trust in those things, we will go down with them.

There are those in our congregation who are in danger of losing jobs. But in general, the news of this week is unsettling, no matter how vulnerable you know yourself to be.

The United States tax payer has become an involuntary investor in the failing industries of finance and real estate. We have barely averted a catastrophe of Biblical proportions. By their own admission, politicians, economists and business leaders have told the country greed and political expediency are the culprits and we are all in some measure of jeopardy.

In the end, we were told early this morning to trust in the God Who has never failed us.

At the second service, a smaller working class congregation was also exhorted by their pastor to continue to trust in God. The current business in Washington is something we don't control. Pray for the government, the pastor said. Several members came down for prayer. One young lady had a testimony that she had been out of work since February, 2007. She recently found a job in the sector of an industry in which she has always wanted to work. The pastor lauded her for her faithfulness. She always came to church, even though she was out of work.

For anyone wondering, based on what has been said: white people were never mentioned. America was only mentioned in as much as my pastor talked about our misplaced values. And no one was 'blamed' for poverty and no one gloated over what has befallen our nation.

All of this made me wonder, though. These are two African-American congregations. What was being said in churches whose make-up is different? What was being said in pulpits which have extolled America's prosperity and power as evidence of God's blessing? Was anyone saying that this type of 'patriotism' is really self destructive, delusional materialism, wrapped in a thin veneer of religiosity? Did anyone say that we need a new ethic, one that recognizes that our country can't be very 'Christian' if we believe that wealth is to be hoarded by 2% of the population, while 98% of wallow in divisiveness, aquisitiveness or poverty?

There are former church donors who no longer support CDM, because we don't have a lot of opportunities for people to come and 'evangelize' our neighbors. Did any of these churches stop to inquire about the salvation of some of the people in their surrounding neighborhoods who may have lost their net worth because of what's happened this week? Will they be working on a 'mission project' to help members who borrowed money for houses they couldn't afford, or lost life savings and are now desperate?

Was anyone reminded of Psalms 62:10, "...if riches increase, set not your heart on them."?

I hope so. Our country will overcome this adversity. But I hope we learn that there can be circumstances resulting in loss that are not a sign of God's absence. Sometimes they are a sign that God is too present to allow us to take Him for granted.

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