Joe McKeever has worn many hats. He’s a pastor, a cartoonist, and a keen observer of the trials and tribulations of church life. He retired as Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of New Orleans, and has collected an ongoing list of things NOT to tell a pastor. He has given his ok to pass them on and even add to the “wisdom.” These are the ones I like — and have heard!
1. “I enjoyed your little talk.”
2. “Is what you said true, or was that just preacher talk?”
3. “The restroom is out of paper.”
4. “Someone–I’m not saying who–told me to tell you….”
5. “Can I come by your office in the morning? I might need a couple of hours of your time.”
6. “I miss our church when it was just our people.”
7. “I heard High Rock Church baptized 42 people. And Grace Chapel had a $100,000 offering last week.”
8. “Just because you’re the pastor doesn’t make you always right.”
9. “Hi Pastor! Bet you don’t remember my name.”
10. “You preach too long; our former pastor preached 20 minutes and people loved him.”
11. “We don’t want those kind of people in our church.”
12 “Are you aware of what your daughter posted on Facebook?”
13. “This is our church. My granddaddy started this church.”
14. “I don’t care what the Bible says. I know what I believe….”
15. “Would you tell the music director to sing some of the hymns I like?”
16. “I’m not being fed.”
17. “Oh, pastor–don’t you just love Joel Osteen!”
It’s Back-to-School time! I know young mothers who are struggling with sending their small children off to kindergarten for the first time. I also know mothers who are sending their older kids off to college. Either way, parents have to release their children to the unknown. It is the job of parents to care for and protect their children. This is a reflection of how our Heavenly Father cares for and protects us, his own children. This was made visible to me one Sunday when Mark, our worship leader, became aware of baby noises in the back of the sanctuary. His own baby was with her mother in the same general area. I could see how Mark became instantly alert as he watched from the platform to make sure that his baby was not in distress.
We live in a world that causes us distress. Several church and family members are dealing with serious health issues. We need the assurance that God our Father is watching over us. And the Bible promises us just that. So with a lump in our throat and fear in our heart, we come before the throne of God on behalf of those we love. And we know from our experience with Him that He is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. We trust those closest to us to Him and rest assured that He is with them - at school or in the hospital or where ever they may be.
We pray for those we love using the scripture that I often use as a benediction:
“The Lord bless you and keep you,
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24 - 26
Greg Lowther will be playing the First Baptist pipe organ in a free concert this Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Mr. Lowther’s reputation as one of New England’s brightest young organists was established during his tenure as First Baptist’s organist. He was mentored at Gordon College by the church’s current organist, Dr. Roy Brunner. He will be joined in two of his numbers by pianist Mrs. Norma Brunner.
This concert is the inaugural one of his forthcoming American tour. Dr. Jon Dale Hevelone, pastor of the church since 2002, remarked: “Greg Lowther is a breath of fresh air among church and classical organists. Listening to him on our pipe organ is an incredible experience.”
This concert is free, open to everyone, and will be hold Sunday, August 30, at 3 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Arlington sanctuary, 819 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington. Come and enjoy!
Most of the coffee mugs I drink from are personal. Whether they picture a Studebaker Hawk or New Orleans’ Cafe du Monde or a moose in Maine the cups say something about me. When I lived in the deep south I often drank my coffee from a mug emblazoned with the stars and bars — the old Confederate flag. I liked the mug because it somehow always appealed to that idealistic part of me which was, and is, a rebel. As a native (and naive?) midwesterner I somehow never associated the rebel flag with it’s deep roots in racism. That has changed since the terrorist massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
During the time our family lived in Louisiana, one of my daughters started dating Mark, a sociable, intelligent, and handsome young man. While I readily admit no one is good enough to date a daughter of mine, Mark came pretty close to my criteria. He was also black.
I was terrified. What was my daughter thinking? What were the dangers facing young teenagers dating across racial lines in the violent racial world of Dixie? And more terrifying still, I felt within my heart the passions of prejudice stirring, threatening the image I carried of myself as an accepting, color-blind Christian who accepted all people. My soul struggled. I, of all people, did not discriminate against black people. I, of all people, detested the young black teenager who had stolen my daughter’s heart. I sat at my desk engaging in deep soul searching. I drank lots of coffee, all from a mug covered with the rebel flag. Back then, it never crossed my mind that in many ways, I was an unintentional racist.
I believe many of us today are unintentional racists. Our ideals are good, but we slip up a bit in practice. We are unaware. We become blind to our prejudices and are quick to dismiss those twinges of superiority or fear or condescension or distancing as being normal, or a product of our culture, or as the way we were taught. Well, yes. This, however, does not make our actions right. I was wrong in my attitude toward Mark.
We are wrong today, no matter what color or ethnicity we wear, when we wear it pridefully as just a little bit better than others. When we are insensitive to a black person or dismissive of a white person because their skin doesn’t match ours we are unintentional racists. When we as a multicultural church sing just “white” hymns catering to nineteenth century tastes we are unintentional racists. When we pit a Scotch-Irish heritage against that of Italians or Brazilians we are unintentional racists. When we perpetuate jokes or make trite remarks about people who are different than us, we are unintentional racists — or unintentional sexists or unintentional homophobes.
When we as a nation, or as individuals, believe that removing the Confederate flag from view is enough change to atone for the murders of praying people in Charleston we are unintentional racists. It takes so much more. Christians believe it takes a cross. Following Jesus involves embracing that cross. Part of living Christianly is becoming aware of the unintentional sins that we harbor, and and then allowing God’s grace to remove and redeem. The best way I know to stop being an unintentional racist is to become more and more intentional in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus.