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Tag Archive | "Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist"

Resolutions for every day of the year


Courtland-OakfieldUMCPastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist

10295 Myers Lake Avenue

Rockford, MI 49341

 

 

One of the privileges of being a pastor in this area is taking my turn when it comes around to contribute to this column in the Post. I have no idea whether anything any of us writes ever has the impact we hope it will when we’re writing it; still, the opportunity to gather, sift, arrange and present one’s thoughts on what it means to be a person of faith in the 21st century, even in a brief format such as this, helps keeps those of us who do so accountable and attentive to the message of God’s grace that each of us, in our own way, hopes to convey.

So you’d think this spot in the rotation, the week when we’re all turning the corner from one year to the next, would be especially attractive. With 2014 getting one last look before we say farewell and forecasts for 2015 being made, this would seem to be the perfect context for insights on tying up loose ends and stepping forward with bold conviction. You know, the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing.

But how tedious and predictable is that? We’re all capable of googling what the most popular resolutions are and the low success rate people have meeting the goals they set in January. Is there anything at all that a pastor could offer that isn’t just another bow to the clichés of pop culture?

Maybe a different take on resolution would be worth something. Traditionally, during days of auld lang syne, the operative definition of the word involves statements of firm determination relative to particular actions, either to be taken or to be avoided. One might resolve to lose weight, for example, or quit smoking.

Another definition of resolution has to do with problem-solving. Resolution is the just and equitable settlement of a dispute or controversy.

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement. All of us would do well to take better care of our emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health and we have nothing to lose by declaring our intentions to do so. In fact, “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” (That comes from one of those google searches, http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/)

But an article that I, or any of our area pastors, could write no matter what time of year it is would speak to the need for the employment of every resource of grace—forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, redemption. It would encourage us to “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV) and it would remind us that Jesus called peacemakers blessed.

We don’t need to wait until it’s time to flip a page of the calendar to “learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16b-17, NRSV). New Year’s resolutions? Let’s make New Day’s resolutions, every day, always to be part of the solution, actively and intentionally.

 

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Liberty and justice for all


Courtland-Oakfield-United-MethPastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

 

I’m still thinking about Independence Day. Celebrations of “liberty and justice for all” are still fresh in mind. Even though the nation was founded with some limitations on the word “all” (African slaves, women, non-landowners, for example, weren’t originally included), I am grateful that there have been courageous, visionary leaders along the way to push us toward a full realization of the ideals on which our country was founded.

“All” is a potent little word that is particularly challenging in world made up of such a diverse collection of people. Whether by age, race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic heritage, cultural affinities, or any of a number of other characteristics, each of us can be defined and categorized in ways such that no one is identical to anyone else.

I am a transplant to this area having grown up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and lived for more than 30 years in Grand Rapids. There are reminders of many aspects of our nation’s diversity that are more evident in most cities than one is likely to find in the town-and-country living of the Cedar Springs area.

There are, however, other reminders of the full diversity of all creation in this part of the world, diversity of a different sort than shows up in urban settings. House wrens and grackles are just about the only birds flying the skies of Grand Rapids, along with the occasional cardinal, blue jay, or mourning dove. Here there are hummingbirds, orioles, and red-breasted grosbeaks; woodpeckers, bluebirds, and indigo buntings; Canada geese, blue herons, and bald eagles.

The writer of Psalm 139 has this to say about all that God has knit together and our place in the diversity of creation: “I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well” (Psalm 139:14, CEV).

We often struggle with our differences; we let them breed discomfort, fear, and resentment, but they are evidence of God’s hand in all that is (there’s that word again) and all who are.

“Liberty and justice for all” is not only a promise for Americans in civic and political arenas, it is the promise of God for those parts of our lives that yearn for wholeness and spiritual peace. The apostle Paul put it this way: “Creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:21, CEV). That’s something to hope for, something to work for, something to grow toward, and that’s something for us to do together, all of us.

 

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