Central Baptist Church of Westerly
16 Elm Street, Westerly, RI   02891
Phone: (401) 596-4929   

Check out our blog at Central Baptist Life
Looking for Love
                                         
                                                            September 11, 2019
Dear Friends,

It is happening every day now. Some person or group is
being singled out for hateful behavior. It is happening to
people who have been commended as good citizens and
never had a complaint against them. Just last week New
Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, one of the
nicest guys in the NFL, was vilified because he promoted
the "Bring your Bible to School" campaign.

Brees was the darling of the city of New Orleans not too
long ago. His humanitarian efforts have been lauded. Yet,
when he decided to star in an advertisement run by Focus
on the Family, he was called out as a hate monger. Why?
Because the organization promotes traditional marriage.
According to some, that makes it anti-LGBQT group.

Another example of this is the Chik-Fil-A restaurant
chain. Truett Cathy, the owner and founder, believed
that his restaurants should reflect his Christian faith.
Hospitality was job #1. His employees were paid better
and treated more like family than workers. Most notably,
his customers were greeted with a smile and a hearty
welcome when they entered the doors.

None-the-less, if you watch the news you will see that
controversy erupts every time a new store location is
proposed. Some cities have even refused to let them open.
Why? Because Cathy supported the idea of traditional
marriage and often spoke out against the concept of gay
marriage. Yet, his personal beliefs did not lead him to
deny a job or turn away any customer because of their
sexual orientation.

There was a time in our country when you could have
differing opinions and remain civil. You could believe
in a woman's right to choose and be pro-life. You could
believe in traditional marriage and not be considered
homophobic. You could be for legal immigration and
not be considered Xenophobic. All that has been thrown
out the window in today's political environment.

Closer to home, Miles Prentice, the owner of the
Connecticut Tigers, has had questions raised about his
character since it was discovered that he serves as
chairman of the Center for Security Policy. The
conservative think tank has made statements about
radical Islam and has been identified as a "hate group"
by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yet, if you search
the internet you will see nothing but words of praise in
the way he does business.

As far as I know, there has never been any indication
that he has advocated discriminatory policies in his
association with the ball club or any other professional
organizations. Prentice has kept his personal views
separate from the way in which he conducts his
professional life.

I remember writing an article about the public and
private faith of Senator John Kerry for our church
newsletter. He was running for President against
George W. Bush. In researching my column I came
across a quote from the candidate that said essentially
this: "As a Roman Catholic, I believe in the sanctity of
life and am pro-life all the way. Yet, as an elected
representative I have to act on behalf of all the people
I serve. I have to be pro-choice."

I don't think that would go over very well today.
People no longer seem to have the right to hold a
personal opinion on anything if they interact in any
way with the public. Last week a couple at a Real
Salt Lake soccer game was asked to put away their
Betsey Ross flag or leave. They were told the flag
was a symbol of hate. The couple simply said they
loved their country and were big fans of the American
soccer team and league.

There was another story about a librarian in a Christian
School in Nashville, Tennessee that was told to remove a
set of Harry Potter Books from the shelves. The reason
she was given was because they included incantations
and spells that might confuse the children. In a country
that prizes free speech, the free exchange of ideas and
the right of free association, something has gone astray
when we start banning books. That is a dangerous sign.

Personally I don't like controversy. I try to stay away
from it. The truth is that as a Christian with traditional
views of scripture and religious life, I have positions that
don't always go along with mainstream societal thinking.
Yet I respect the right of others to differ. I don't try to
push my views on others outside of my faith community.
I believe we are called to love one another. That's how
we draw others into a relation with Christ.

A long time ago I decided that my main purpose in life
was to share the love of God in Jesus Christ. That
sometimes means hearing and seeing things I don't like
and agree with. I always ask the question, "What would
Jesus do?" I know it's a platitude but it forces me think
about the way Jesus treated others, especially those who
differed from him in both societal and religious thinking.

Jesus seemed to see the people he met, whether they
were Samaritans (foreigners), tax collectors (from
despised vocations), beggars on the street (the poor and
destitute), or even religious snobs (you know who they
are), as children of God and he acted accordingly. I think
we can learn from him. Maybe we should be slow to judge
and more forgiving in our relationships with one another.

I can't help but remember the days immediately following
the attack on September 11, 2001. It seems like the whole
country came together. Religion, political party, age,
race, or sexual orientation didn't seem to matter. We
became the human race and embraced one another. We
focused on what was most important and we came together.
We shared our fears and came together in a way that
hadn't happened in  while.

A few days following the attack it seemed like the whole
community gathered on Chelsea Parade and held a vigil.
I'll never forget that night as we held candles and cried
with one another. Then we closed our vigil by singing,
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."
I think that's the key to moving forward and changing
the dynamic of hate. It begins with us. We can't control
what others do. We can control our reactions.

So my word for today, and it might sound controversial,
is to let go of hate. Stop looking for it in every situation.
You get what you look for. Instead look for the impulses
of love and the instances of grace. They all around us.
When you start looking for them you will find the peace
that comes with knowing that God's goodness is all around
us.

God bless! See you in church.  
Cal
Pastor Cal Lord's Weekly Epistle
Pastor Cal's Weekly
Epistle

Every week Pastor Cal
writes a weekly column for
the Spirit Page of the
Norwich Bulletin.

He also sends it out to
members and friends of
the church via e-mail.

E-mail him at
calstigers@gmail.com if
you want to be added to
the weekly list.
Pastor Cal's
Archived Epistles