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Pastor's Message - March 2023

I've never really been the “box o'religion” sort. You know them. They attend church,

can quote scripture (sort of and selectively). But then they go out into the “real”

world, where they live the rest of their lives, where the demands of religion are

difficult. Predatory business practices become moral on Monday. Theft is okay as

long as it is done legally under the appropriate “Terms and Conditions.” All that

messy stuff about love and justice fits in the “religion” box. Business is business.

Politics is politics.

For me, my faith is part of every single aspect of my life. Do justice, love kindness,

and walk humbly can be challenging out there in the “real” world, sometimes making

life a little harder. But then again, we bring the tools of faith, hope, and love with us.

Jesus and the entire Israelite prophetic tradition demand that we live our faith in the

real world.

I began my active ministry 15 years ago this spring, and recently celebrated thirteen

years as an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament. For all of that time, I've stood

in pulpits and challenged congregants to go live their faith in the real world, to

change the world through their political and economic activity, to be “boots on the

ground” for justice. I focused on church stuff, my congregation, my denomination, as

well as ecumenical and interfaith partnerships. Now, someone has called my bluff

about living my faith out there in the community. I've been asked to run for City

Council and agreed to do so.

Some may be uncomfortable with this decision, preferring that I stay in the “pastor”

box. It is an oddity of white Mainline Protestants that they interpret the appropriate

separation of church and state as a separation of faith and politics. After all, the

gospel comes uncomfortable close to our privilege. Fundamentalists, the Roman

Church, and the Black Church have never had qualms about political engagement.

Senator Warnock is also Pastor Raphael.

Of course, I'll keep good boundaries. You won't hear me campaign on Sundays. I'll

just stick to what I've always done, reminding the good people in the pews that God

is good (and mysterious), and that we can make the world a better place by hearing

and responding to the challenges of the Word, Jesus and the prophetic tradition that

informed his ministry, and our own unique location on that trajectory, the Social

Gospel movement in the Protestant, Reform, Congregational, and United Church of

Christ traditions. Then again, maybe that always was just a little political...

Blessings, Gary


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