Pastoral Letter Regarding the Events in Charlottesville

August 13, 2017

Dear Holy Trinity Family,

I want to write to you about the awful events in Charlottesville on Friday/Saturday. First, thanks to Ben and Kevin for reading this to you this morning. Second, thank you for listening well. Communication on important issues is hard enough face to face, much less in a brief letter. Third, this is being read before the Prayers of the People because we are a part of something bigger than ourselves: the work of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. And, frankly, prayer is our most powerful course of action. It is not our *only* means of action, as some have accused Christians of, but it is undoubtedly our most powerful.

Before I address someone else’s words, let me address my, and our, own words. The Scriptures are clear - words carry power. Old Testament writers (Proverbs 29.20), New Testament writers (James 1.19-21, 3.1-18) and Jesus himself (Matthew 12.33-37, 15.17-20) speak to this. So, let’s communicate in ways that are calm, courageous, constructive, and evidence-based. None of these things preclude passion or hard truths, but they may, Lord willing, mitigate against committing our own sins as we address Sin.

The Scriptures are clear -  we are subjects of The Kingdom, the family of God the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus the Son, and Temples of God the Holy Spirit. In short, we are not our own. When God drew us to Himself and out of darkness and death, we also gave ourselves over to Him. To His character. To His purposes. He himself is now our best and highest priority in Life.  

Not every event, even important ones, warrants comment; however,  some things at some times should be called out, because we belong to God. The White Supremacists’ denigrating words and deeds must be called out as wrong, destructive, and contrary to God’s desire for His world. Because these words and actions are so publicly proclaimed, they need to be publicly countered.

First, we do this amongst ourselves and before God to affirm who we are. Then, we do it before anyone who cares about, or merely happens to hear, what is said and done in our little corner of the Kingdom. If we speak in words and tones and act in ways as vile as the White Supremacists, then we have also put ourselves at odds with God (Matthew 11.25-30, 20.24-28).

God’s staggering power shown in Christ’s Incarnation and Cross was always meant to go from that one Cross to encompass all of Creation. We are grateful for our racial and national uniquenesses, and celebrate them even as we are also one nation? Good! We claim an inherent Supremacy for our Race or Nationality? No. That is counter to God’s plan and desires, and He will oppose the arrogant.

So, as we look for God to speak to us today in the Word proclaimed and preached, and as we meet Jesus as His People called to His Table, let us pour out our hearts in that great gift of intercession, of having the right and responsibility to approach God on behalf of ourselves and others.

Finally, in God’s Providence I had lunch with Pastor Art Carter of Payne Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church the week before last. We struck up the beginnings of a real friendship, sharing deep things over a single lunch. We also discussed Holy Trinity and Payne Chapel doing things together. I dearly hope that this will have a special depth and power as we move forward.

Well, this has been long enough. Please contact me if you desire to keep this conversation going.

I love you, I miss you, and I am always yours in Christ,

matt

For Christ himself has brought peace to us.

He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when,

in his own body on the cross,

he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

(Ephesians 2.14, New Living Translation)