On this snowy Friday afternoon, I watched briefly “The Five” as they asked each other, “What do you do to get away from politics?” The answers went from bland to inane.
Politics is difficult because politics is us. It is the people’s attempt to give meaning to our lives, seeking leaders who can give character and hope to our life together.
It is a worthy calling, meant to lift our vision as a people. That is why the Puritan cry as they came to the New World, full of hope for the success of their venture of crossing a great ocean, leaving their native land to find a way out of their sacrifice, was to “do it right.” John Winthrop preached to his people, “WE ARE AS A CITY SET UPON A HILL, WITH THE EYES OF THE WORLD UPON US.” The vision of a great experiment seen first in God’s Word to them in the Bible. The idea that God would use them as a great example of a servant nation.
They were following the Pilgrims who had preceded them in 1620, to found something new. A new way. A way of the people.
Their predecessors gathered in the cabin of the Mayflower, to write out a “Compact,” an agreement to live together in a certain way, where the people would agree together to act and work together for the good of the new colony.
The Mayflower Compact foreshadowed America’s later Declaration of Independence, followed by the Constitution, that amazing document that ordered a life of the people working together for the common good. No wonder we cherish it!
These people were going to work and live by faith. And their worship and work together, gathering in their beautifully simple and symmetric New England Meeting House, gave America and us, would we all follow it, the “Congregational Way” of church life. Where the people gather together seeking to be like Jesus Himself, through His Holy Spirit in the way God led them.
The following of a Way in which, by His Spirit, God leads, is a humbling that bends people toward securing a right way emerging from the Spirit-led conversation, until they are able to say, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to do thus and so.” No narrow majority. Nearly always unanimous or close to it.
Enough mystery in that to give ample cause for the daring followers of Jesus to believe His hand was guiding them. And so emerged a recognized form of Congregational Church governance. It called for patience, daring courage. But, it brought faithful people together in a spirit of one mind and heart.
That commitment to the Spirit gave many a congregation practice in following their Lord in deep things. Christ Himself, showed them the way toward what’s right.
Many decades ago, back in the 1960s, the Minnesota Conference of the Congregational Churches challenged every local church to declare itself as open and welcoming to black and white together. We, as a congregation, agreed we already did that in our heart and spirit. But when the vote was taken we could not get agreement to announce this as our policy. But one Deacon leader gathered people to study and pray about this for a year. At the end of a year a meeting was called and a vote taken, and unanimously the vote to announce the same public invitation was taken. Passed unanimously. The vote to declare ourselves open and welcoming to people of all races into Colonial’s worship and life, passed unanimously and continues as stated policy and purpose.
Time, prayer, and a humble heart, led by sincere lay leaders, brought about in the 1960s our declared public welcome, which still stands.
The Holy Spirit does lead us, when we ask Him to. It is a leadership the community wanted to see, and God wanted to see. That as a church, God asked us to be a model, a “city on a hill,” calling America itself to be a “servant nation to the world.”
God has called us into high adventure with Him. He led us into bold partnership to do healing work in our city: To help a young legislator Arne Carlson establish Alpha House for people coming out of prison, to work with State government and a leading non-profit to establish The Colonial Residence for Girls to help teenage girls in the city, to establish The Colony in our Wooddale property as a drop-in center for Junior High drug addicts. To help Sabathani Community Center to get established to serve the black community on the south side. To help a downtown church create an inter-race nursery school called My-Your Nursery with help from Colonial’s own nursery school. And on and on it went.
And now our country is hurt and divided. Indeed, our President was hurt and publicly shamed by impeachment. He is one of few leaders to publicly defend the lives of unborn children. He has stood for religious freedom and rights. He has found strong and dedicated judges for the Supreme Court. He did many good things. He has been told because he is crude and rude that he is unworthy.
We know from scripture that God has chosen bad people to do good things in His strange and conflicted world. How unworthy we all are. Our leader is hurt and I grieve for him and pray for him.
A change will come. I hope we can all have grace to pray for the President and his family. We will see and understand many things as time goes on.
Jesus still is Lord and Savior of us all. He is more than ever, our world’s hope and America’s hope. Good will come. May we all pray for courage to stand with Jesus, at the Cross, and live with love and be bearers of the vision, in our time.
God love and bless you all.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES