I really wanted to write, using the title, “Who Am I?”However, I already used that title twice and so resolved not to use it again with yet another twist. After all these years, the question is still relevant. So, after 20 years of military service, and 20 years of being a pastor, I am resolved to be the sum of my experiences. This is who God ultimately created me to be so—I am who I am. This does not, however, stop me from questioning my effectiveness, nor the purpose of my existence within the family of homo- sapiens. Have I made a difference? Am I used up and is there anything left? Perhaps you may have asked that question yourself?
Like some of you, I have listened to both conservative and liberal media outlets, not satisfied with either spin. Once in a while, I like to listen to more centralist news like PBS, BBC and the League of Women voters to balance my understanding of the world God created and entrusted to our care. I have listened to the “talking heads” on the economy, politics, science, and even the socio-economic impact of our human imprint on this celestial ball. Yes, I also watch, The American Pickers. There is much I do not know and there is even more that I wish not to know. There is something I do know, however, and I wish to share before my time on the soap box is over.
I perceived to gain wisdom first from one political persuasion, then from the opposite point of view. I pursued even greater wisdom and compassion through a theological education and have continued to learn ever since. Soon I will retire and my opinion won’t matter much at all to folks so, while I’m still here, let me share one final nugget. I realize now that my frustration/confusion was not because one political party was superior and the other inferior or visa-a-versa; it was because we Americans are no longer viewing the world through the lens of Jesus Christ and we are looking to our political leaders to be THE Messiah.
I have worn glasses since I was in the first grade; therefore, I only know what it is like to have a lens in front of my eyes. Everything is blurry and out of focus without my lens-framed glasses. The same has become true for my spiritual clarity. I no longer am able to participate in this world without the lens of my Shepherd. In other words, the Light of Jesus must always be before me or everything is out of focus and dark. Last Sunday, I heard Pastor Beth using the phrase “caddywampus” to describe a crazy unbalanced condition. I think that fits!
Take for instance the wall on our southern border. President Trump is right, we need a wall, but for a much different purpose. If folks travel along the wall of our southern border, it will lead them to the “gate of entry.” Entering through the front door, they will be able to start an honest living as an American citizen and no longer hide in the darkness. They can be welcomed to join this melting pot of folks from all over the world. We would not be who we have become without positive immigration. Immigrants have built this great nation. Perhaps we need to reorient our heart vision. This condition is not political…it’s spiritual.
The collection of 50 states we like to call “America” is the only country in the entire world that includes ethnicity from every country of the world. Do we really believe heaven will be exclusive…or inclusive? I believe Jesus is correct in teaching us to welcome the stranger, and we can do that in an orderly and effective fashion of immigration. Our national or world view only works when we see our world through the lens of Christ Jesus and we encourage our leaders to meet in the aisle. We must stop being radical in our political posturing and accept the grace, love and forgiveness offered to us through the Savior of the world—The real Messiah.
I have been wrong about philosophy, politics and the economy most of my life but, when I refocus using Jesus as my lens, I can see with clarity. Jesus came for all people, of all times and all places. Let me leave you with the thoughts of a teacher and a preacher, Lloyd Stone and Rev. Georgia Harkness,“This Is My Song.”
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.
Pastor Dale Golden