I know I'm not the only one picking up or sending mixed messages these days. They surround us, don't they? Wearing masks is an easy example. The government's strong advice is that everyone should wear masks when in the company of others. Still, it somehow sadly has become a political statement to go masked or unmasked, often going against the very advice our government officials represent. And then there is the "to open or not open" question - it's a hard one for everyone. Should you? Can you? Will you? Just because you can doesn't mean you should etc. Be safe, everyone. Do what's right for you.
The truth is - there is still a lot of unknowns about this virus, and we all are trying to find ways to be courageous in finding a new normal and being reasonably safe while we caretake the health of all. Just because the church building has had limited activity doesn't mean it's been closed. In fact, the church has been deployed and is bringing glory and honor to God even without in-person worship. Living rooms, bedrooms, and parking lots have turned into tabernacles of praise, and our response to the Word of God has been to find some sense of trust, faith, charity, and peace during the chaos that is 2020.
Another mixed message is where we live - the land of the free and home of the brave. We just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those that gave the ultimate price for our freedom. On the one hand, we are free and brave, and on the other...well, not so much. Ahmad Arbery was jogging in a neighborhood in Georgia before misguided folks took that right away from him. The family of George Floyd is grieving his last words allegedly as he was underneath the weight of a police officer for eight minutes saying, "Please, please, please. I can't breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can't breathe." I'm not sure what, if anything, he was arrested for, but the sad fact is he received the death penalty without any judge, jury, or trial. Will Smith recently said, "Racism is not getting worse; it's getting filmed." We are better that this. I have the privilege of knowing some of the most excellent law enforcement agents in the world, and this type of thing isn't the value they stand for as they serve and protect us. This isn't our best. It's all mixed messages for us - and God's work isn't done, and so we continue.
We say we love people but then hurt them. We say we will do better, but sometimes we don't. There are so many mixed messages. We are broken and not yet whole people. God's Spirit cleanses ALL if we open ourselves to the power of God. Some people accuse God of sending mixed messages. We have trouble seeing how God can allow hardship and say that He loves us. But the reason there are mixed messages is not that God sends them but because His people still mess up the message sometimes (me included). We are imperfect. God's love is perfect!!! Every time.
God loves you. God desires you. God cares for you. God longs to give you the Power (Sunday's sermon) that you need to survive and thrive in life. In a world and in a time where it is hard to figure out what people are REALLY saying, hear this: You are the beloved and God Chooses you—no ifs, and, or buts.
Receive it and share it - and help untangle God's message of love to this world Longs Chapel.
Chris Rev. Chris Westmoreland Lead Pastor