North Highland United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

October 2016

It seems that more and more lately I have heard people say:History always repeats itself. This is almost always heard or said as words of caution rather than encouragement. Without citing specifics, I can think of many instances when this seems to have been accurate. How about you? Have you read historical accounts or lived through them yourself, only to see humanity seemingly bumbling toward the same unfortunate phenomenon in the actions, thoughts and responses as in past years and centuries.
I wonder how often this saying is true for the people of God—for the church as a whole—for the church we call North Highland UMC. If we learn from both best and worst practices, what have we learned as the greater church about welcome, acceptance, or flexibility? Think of the numbers of times in the Gospels that Jesus refers to a symptom of hardened hearts—the number of times that Jesus is challenged by the status quo for sharing table fellowship or compassion with those deemed to be undeserving, unworthy or of different heritage. Think of the highly exclusive ways of the church in past centuries. And think of the ways we have or have not opened our hearts and minds to the world outside of our own church doors. Where are we exhibiting some of the same actions as those who challenged Jesus? Where have we experienced wonderful friendships, and new-found camaraderie when we have opened ourselves to others who have had different experiences and opportunities than us? I can tell you of many, as likely you could share with me!
Theologian Richard Rohr recently said: What if changing our perception of God has the potential to change everything? As your pastor, I am so grateful for the many years that North Highland has taught and sought a loving and grace-filled God and not a God of exclusion and judgment.
God did a remarkable thing in sending Jesus to the world. The prophet Isaiah speaks on God’s behalf in this way: Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. Isaiah 43:19. The actions, responses and teachings of Jesus always point us to God—the Creator who pronounced creation good. As children of God and disciples of Jesus, we have the opportunity to be part of the good in the world—to be part of new relationships and reconciliation among all people, for our time and for future generations. May we always use whatever influence we have to be peace makers, and pursue right and equitable relationships in both our words and our actions.
Peace and blessings,
Pastor Lou