Encouragement and a "Sweet Amen of Peace" Unto All

I'm encouraged. A series of experiences the past couple of weeks, and as recently as worship this morning, lifts my outlook a bit. 

Like you, I am dead tired of all the us vs. them, me vs. you, this vs. the other that seems to permeate every corner of our culture these days. The election year political debate has only risen the expectation that this shall be the new normal. We can't seem to get on with much main business, show much positive progress in the world, or make any headway on serious issues around us because we're wasting our time and energies fighting the other side. And the more talk there is about people at odds with others, the more at odds we seem to become. 

But of late I'm encouraged. Here's why.

The first day of school in metro Nashville, some snafu in the central office resulted in school buses never showing up to pick up probably hundreds of students. The local evening news selected school mom Sarah Galloway to bear witness to the impact on her family of three bus-riding boys. She reported their inconvenience, but rather than throwing the school administration under the bus (that never showed up), she quickly praised her boys' teachers, principals, and those doing their best to fix the problem. Her testimony and photo even appeared in the local newspaper the next day. I was never more proud of a FBC Nashville "child, then teenager" and now a responsible adult in all my life. Sarah gets it!

One early morning last week I happened to do my walk with Dr. Cynthia Croom, the Executive Director of the Metro Action Commission who was telling me about her side job -- a non-profit that encouraged and equips African-American women in leadership positions to intentionally reach out to women of different cultures and religions in an attempt to understand them and hopefully build community with them for everyone's good. 

This past Sunday morning at Brentwood UMC, senior pastor Davis Chappell is in the middle of a sermon series entitled, "Counter Cultural." This week's installment was basically that we need to grow up, quit acting like babies, get along, be spiritual people, and live lives that look more like Christ our sure foundation than the carnal Corinthians in the early church. Then later downtown at FBC, student minister Tim Wildsmith preached a fine sermon about actually doing justice rather than only talking about it, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. 

So I'm encouraged to see and hear some "counter-culture" sticking its head up. Oh sure, wars, rumors of war, and political rhetoric still are with us and will be, but we can all make some difference and have some positive impact as we walk our pilgrim journey. 

I told Sarah the other day her testimony reminded me of a line in the second stanza of "Lead On, O King Eternal" --

"...for not with swords' loud clashing or roll of stirring drums, [but] with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly Kingdom comes."

A "sweet amen of peace" unto all.

- Mark