105 Franklin St, South Hill, Virginia

Francis and More

South Hill United Methodist Church

Francis and More

The seed is healthy: the vine will give its fruit. The land will give its produce; the heavens will give its dew.  I will give the remnant of this people all these things.  Just as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so now I will deliver you; you will be a blessing.  Don’t fear, but be strong.

Zechariah 8:12-13 (Common English Bible)

Pope Francis is making waves. His historic visit to the United States has generated so much interest and enthusiasm, as well as criticism. Even though we are not Catholic, I believe this pope offers us much insight to what being a Christian is. He is all about love in action. And there is something powerful and good in that message.

If we love something, we will care for it. For Francis, he echoes Jesus, and is concerned more with those whom our greedy societal systems take advantage of or simply ignore. He sees value in every life, and in the world that sustains each of our lives. He uses the Bible and religion as a lens through which to interpret scientific understanding and human behavior. His conversations open up dialogue and encourage finding the common ground between disparate parties. I think this is why he is so popular among the masses, and so criticized among the elite.

The pope’s visit gives us a point of contact that allows us to share our own faith stories. As we continue zooming through our busy season, let us not forget to take time to be in dialogue with those around us about the very same issues. We may not agree with those we converse with, but if our conversations are in the framework of love instead of competition, compassion instead of judgment, then we stand a better chance of changing the life of another and being changed ourselves. Growth is sometimes painful, and often risky. But the reward is greater than we can possibly imagine.

After a season of exile and separation and division, the prophet Zechariah gives words of hope to the people of Israel who were left. He encourages them that their time had come, that God would bless them, and the nations would know him through them and their actions. Their reward for their faithfulness would be great.

I fully believe that the time has come for South Hill United Methodist Church to move out of a difficult season to be the place that people talk about for the difference it is making in the world. I believe that it is our time to be the place where sinners seek refuge, lost seek Christ, and broken find healing. To do this, we must boldly seek the compassionate and yet convicting heart of Christ. To be the church for the community that I believe we are called to be, we must put aside the past pain and embrace God’s courage into the future. Let us have the sometimes difficult conversations with those around us, share our journeys of faith, and invite everyone we see – especially those we find different or strange or outcast – to be with us in celebration of the great God of the Universe. Keep praying for each other and for our community. Keep reading God’s Word. Keep studying. Keep worshiping. But most of all, keep sharing!

I can’t wait to see where God leads us, together!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Brian

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