LET US LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!
For the past four months this nation has faced challenges different than any it has ever faced before. The Coronavirus officially started to impact the way Americans conducted life back in early March. Then on Memorial weekend this nation was confronted with yet another tragedy. A policeman in Minneapolis killed a black man by the name of George Floyd. Ever since that day American cities across this country have seen both peaceful protests, chaos and destruction. To begin with the police across this country were being blamed for racism. But now the cry of racism has spread to include everyone in America, more specifically every white person in America. As I have considered all that is going on and what I as a Christian who is white in America should do, I have found myself asking God and seeking honest answers of myself. A variety of media outlets have been saying the same thing. We Americans are racist. Ironically, most of those saying that, that I have seen are white. As I have heard this over the past few weeks, I found myself asking myself this question. Larry, are you a racist? It seems many in the media are convinced if you are white in America you are a racist. So, before I can, with a clear conscience, go forward as a Christian I must answer the question. Am I a racist? And with great reluctance, I feel compelled to ask you the same question. Are you a racist? As professing Christians, we must honestly be able to answer that question. No one can answer that question for you. In reality only God and you really know that answer. The Lord drew me to this scripture we read this morning while I was seeking the Lord about what this nation and its people are facing. These verses force us as Christians to look at our lives honestly. Where we have been, where we are and where with God’s help we will be in the future. The first few verses point out we must rid ourselves of the things that hurt us and separate us from God, including what we think and some of the things we do. In verse 22 and 23, we see we are to put off the old self and to be made new in the attitude of our minds to put on God’s true righteousness and holiness. These verses clearly point out there is no place for racism and prejudice in Christianity. When I began hearing a variety of voices basically calling me a racist I at first was disappointed, then in many ways I became angry. To make a blanket statement that all white people in America are racist offended me. I am not going to take time this morning claiming to show that I am not racist. Words at times are meaningless. Actions speak louder than words. I then had to face my own outrage and anger that I at times felt about what I was hearing. In verse 26, we read, “Be angry but sin not. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath and do not give opportunity to the devil.” These verses tell us it is okay at times to be angry. Just how far we take it and what we do with that anger is the question. I have done a great deal of personal soul searching over the past few weeks. Every man and woman of God must do the same thing. When I think of where we are as a nation it saddens me. A few months ago, this nation was pretty united seeking answers to the Coronavirus. Now we are as divided as we have been in at least the past 60 years. The police are viewed by some in this country as the enemy. I personally know some members of the police force. They are good, honorable men who are trying to do their best at a very difficult job. I believe the overwhelming majority of police across this country are committed, caring men and women trying to do their best for everyone. I also believe the overwhelming majority of people of all races and religion in this country are people trying to live their lives as best they can. So, when I, as a Christian, am told I am a racist, when I see the destruction of personal, private and public property, what should be my response? As Christians what are we to do? In verses 29 through 30, we are reminded how Christians should conduct themselves in everyday life.
1. Let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths.
2. Only saying things to one another that will build one another up.
3. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. In other words, do not fall back into old bad habits and destructive behavior we once had.
4. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
5. On the other hand—be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.
6. Why? Because through CHRIST, God has forgiven us.
Okay we see what we as Christians should be doing, the question is how? I have taken some steps to limit what I see, hear and read. The more I heard, the more I watched, the more I read, the more frustrated and, yes, angry at times I got. So, I have made a decision to limit to 1 hour a day what I watch, hear, and read. That may sound like a lot to some of you but when driving a truck, at times I would listen for hours, then go home and watch more at night. I have filled that time instead with Christian broadcasts and simply seeking out the Lord in prayer and meditation.
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
In regard to what is happening across the country what are we to do or thing about all these things. I am so thankful to live in a nation that allows for peaceful protests and demonstrations if we feel there is a need for change. That is one of the things that has made this nation so different from others. As a Christian I cannot support the destruction of property by a group who has decided on their own what is appropriate and what is not. I must admit I have no idea what it is like to be black or of any other race in America today. I was born into a white middle class home and family. I had nothing to do with it. We Christians are compelled by God to treat all people with respect, dignity, and honor. It should never matter what color of skin you have or where you came from. But even Christianity and Christians are under attack as well by some of those protesting right now. This past week there are some saying the pictures in your house or church, the statues or images depicting Jesus look too white. They must be torn down and destroyed. I do not know how many of you many have pictures of Jesus in your homes. The ones we have depict something that reminds us of who Jesus is or what God has done through him for me and everyone else who will receive God’s mercy and grace. In closing we who are Christian must decide what we will and will not do. What to agree with and support and what to say is wrong and inappropriate. I know a couple of things for sure. Anyone who is a racist is not a Christian. Also, anyone who destroys anyone else’s property, no matter what excuse you make, isn’t a Christian either, and this should not be accepted. God is calling you and me to pray for healing for our nation. When we can do things that can bring meaningful change that improves everyone’s lives, by all means do it. But always stand up for God’s holy standard and values. God will honor that, and we will be used by God as examples of what is right and true.
July: We will worship in the sanctuary at 10:00 for those who feel comfortable coming. Physical distancing must be maintained and the wearing of face masks, please. We will also continue the facebook live service for those who wish to stay home.
July 1: Denominational Worship Gathering will take place virtually at 7:00 pm Central. It will center around the theme: “New World Coming!” Two of my cousins (Kendra and Janelle Flory) will be performing a musical number, probably with handbells since that is their forte`. A children’s worship will take place at 6:30 p.m. www.brethren.org/ac/virtual Follow the links to connect that evening.
July 2: an online Church of the Brethren concert, also at 7:00 p.m. The link above is the one to connect to the concert as well. Trust me (Carol), all of these events will be very well done and well worth your time to watch.
July 5: 9:00 a.m. Sunday School begins again.
July 7: 9:30 a.m. Bible Study resumes
July 8: Board Meeting
Upper Room and Daily Bread: new issues available in the back of the sanctuary
THANK YOU to the people who have been mowing!!! This chore is greatly appreciated;
to all who helped in any way with our revised edition of the Strawberry Festival; to the State Bank of Cerro Gordo for the grant money that we have received.
First Sunday of the month: Food Banks
Food needs: boxes of cereal, boxes of prepared foods, such as soups, potatoes, rice, mac & cheese, peanut butter, jelly
This month please consider sending The Lord’s Storehouse a monetary donation. The address is PO Box 229, La Place, IL 61936.
Donation Box June: Vacation Bible School; we host in 2021.
Keep up on denominational happenings at www.brethren.org and district at www.iwdcob.org
Larry Traxler’s phone number: 217-454-2362
Keep in Your Prayers
Anna Gentry Thompson (improving a little each day—still on pain meds); Arnold Schultz (in rehab); Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Shirley Clarkson; Mike Seidenstricker (back home after being in hospital for infection); Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liam Martina; Ali Bryant; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Jennifer Like; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the 125,000+ people who have died from COVID-19
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Joe and Tina Martina thank everyone for their prayers for Joe’s cousin Lou who is now doing well after having COVID-19.
Prayers and cards of encouragement are requested for:
Zola Copeland – 214 E. Fitch St. Forsyth, IL 62535-9668
Anna Rose Larrick – C/O Evergreen Place #110
4825 E. Evergreen Ct. Decatur IL 62521
Shawn Cain – 208 West Wait St. Cerro Gordo IL 61818
Robert Cripe – 21 Park Street Danville IL 61832