Let there be no excuses or political justification for the evil that was on full display in Charlottesville last Saturday. Nor let us forget that many such displays of white supremacy, racism, and hatred go unreported or under-reported in many places. White supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies are abhorrent and entirely inconsistent with the Christian faith. (You can read the entire article here.)
The other memo is to tell you about a delightful worship service on Sunday. Yes, I said delightful… we are going to have a first ever for me, “Blessing of the Animals” service. This is where you can bring any animal that can fit into our sanctuary with you for church. You can bring a picture of one who is perhaps no longer with you or that you choose not to bring with you. You can bring a stuffed animal if you want. It is going to be a celebration of all God’s critters and our responsibility as humans to care for them and our planet.
How to comment on the dreadful and the delightful in the same space is a stretch at best. So bear with me.
Often the things that bring us the most joy or sadness are connected deep down to one another. For many of us nothing says unconditional acceptance and love quite like the dog that meets you at the door. And nothing much stands more for its opposite, the conditional approval based on hate and intolerance, than white hoods and black swastikas. These images are rooted deep inside us and not just in our minds… they are ingrained in our soul.
We don’t often have what a friend of mine calls “bandwidth,” and what others call emotional capacity, to deal with both at the same time. And yet often… in a moment when we are being stretched to our soul’s capacity, the dreadful and the delightful come together to reveal how important it is not to ignore the connection.
Let me give another example. Most of our youth meetings begin with something we call “highs and lows.” It’s like joys and concerns in our worship. Youth share what is important in their lives. I remember a time in confirmation a couple of years ago when one youth hesitated when his turn came. He said something like, “I don’t know if this is a high or a low…well, it’s both… my grandma has died… It’s a low of course, because she has died… But it’s well, not a high… but something because she doesn’t have to suffer any longer.”
I want to invite you to have the same courage and the faith to put the dreadful and the delight of your week together and bring both of these images with you to worship on Sunday. The dreadful and the delightful of life are inseparable… they are both are part of our experience…we cannot and should not ignore either. The God we worship is a God of all creation and in Jesus Christ has known this difficult human experience, the dreadful and the delightful and everything in between.