Romans 2:1-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Righteous Judgment of God
2 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say,“We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
This weekend was a whirlwind of emotions!
Friday- I take to take Friday’s off but this Friday I was called into some meetings. I was a little put out to go to them and to have plans already made but each encounter was so full of blessing! The first meeting was with the owner of “The Bitter Monk.” It is a beer tap place here in McMinnville right downtown. The owner is a mid 20s to early 30s guy and all of his staff are in the same range. He asked to meet with me because a member of his staff thought it would be good to have theological discussion in his tap room. What? Since when do secular beer owners come to UM clergy to pursue theology on tap type of programming? So that will be awesome and I definitely can’t turn it down. Then we had a meeting about our Saturday morning breakfast program…what an amazing group of volunteers! Committed in serving those who are hungry in wonderful ways. Then Tia (what the cutest kids in the world call me) was asked to come to Sawyer’s 1st bday party in town. What an honor for the family to invite me! A family looking to be part of our church community as well as the larger community. Awesome.
Saturday – A very special person asked me a very special question and I acquired a new piece of jewelry. We laughed and cried and shared our blessing and were overly blessed by you all! Thank you! We then went to Portland and randomly walked into one of our favorite stores that carries prints from our favorite artist, Nikki McClure, and she was there! She signed a print and gave us a blessing. What an amazing day!
But then Sunday morning came….and there was news in McMinnville. Did you read about this? A 20 year old college student (amazing kid, football player, RA, etc). was stabbed in the 7-11 across the street by someone random to the kid. We don’t know all of the story but the suspect, after many hours, came back to confront the police with his knife and he was shot. Two deaths. In little McMinnville. Two senseless deaths.
So we came to church Sunday morning with heavy hearts and knowing God was already there….but it gets complicated….
While we prayed for Parker (the college student), my mind started racing. We prayed for peace for his family and the Linfield community. We prayed that God might embrace him and that he might know peace. We prayed for the staff at Linfield who are counseling and helping and embracing students so that they might feel safe. So that we might feel safe.
And while we prayed all of these things, I hurt not just for the family of Parker but I wanted to know who the suspect was. We house a large portion of the homeless population. These are folks who are struggling with addiction and displacement. These are the folks who don’t make the right decisions. I had been told that the suspect was a 30 something male who was probably high on something. And here is what sucks….I started to run through my list of names to make sure I could see them yesterday so it wasn’t them. A 30 something male who could have been high does not eliminate parts of my congregation. I started checking the updates obsessively. I prayed all day for the college student, his family, the Linfield community, our community, and the suspects community. It could have all been my community.
When the name of the suspect was released, it was not someone I knew. But I was ready. I was ready to race back to the back of the church to minister to our “everyday congregation” as well.
We are quick to judge. My guess is that many people wanted the suspect’s name to condemn him. He did an awful awful thing. And yet, when we wait for a name to judge and condemn, we are becoming who we don’t want to be. We are giving energy to darkness. We are giving the energy to other spaces than God. I know this sounds counter intuitive but we also must pray for those who have given in to the darkness. We are called, especially in today’s scripture, to not judge but care for in God’s love for all otherwise we turn the judgement to us.
I was devastated by yesterday because my world was so full of blessing, it almost couldn’t take the tragedy. Our world is so wrapped up in all of it. We can’t ignore either side. The darkness doesn’t get to overpower the sweetness of new possibilities, celebrations, sweet worship and joyful unions but it doesn’t get ignored either. Life is messy with everything in between. It is how we interject God into all of it that carries us.
How was your weekend? Who shall we pray for today? I know where my prayer energy will be all day.