Dear friends, it’s been an overwhelming week.
We’re joining many of you and our neighbors in grief and prayer in light of the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the subsequent widespread peaceful protests and disruptive riots.
I’d like to share a few thoughts on how we are praying and how we’d encourage you to pray during this season.
First, you’re welcome to join us for prayer every Thursday at 9 AM. Please email Jen Allen if you’d like to join us firstname.lastname@example.org and she can email you the link.
There’s also a prayer vigil with churches across the area at Mount Canaan Baptist, 4801 Hwy 58, Chattanooga, TN 37416 this Friday June 5 from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM. (Bring a mask; many people will simply remain in their cars). Please email Chris Manley with any questions, email@example.com.
Secondly, our denominational mission agency for North America is hosting meetings on Racial Brokenness in America via Zoom. We will post those links as they are available.
Thirdly, I’d like to share a prayer by Clint Wilkie, one of our ruling elders, that he offered last night as our session wrestled in prayer. I asked Clint to recreate that prayer and transcribe it so that I could share it with you, and he acquiesced:
I would like to think that I shouldn’t have to tell anyone where I stand on the issues of the day. I would like to think that people would already know because my words and my actions reveal a love for justice and mercy.
But I need to ask for your forgiveness because, too often, that isn’t true of me.
I would like to think that North Shore Fellowship shouldn’t have to tell our community where we stand on the issues of the day because our love for truth, our welcoming attitudes and our generous acts reveal your heart.
But we need to ask for your forgiveness because our light doesn’t always shine brightly enough to reveal you to our community.
I would like to think that we shouldn’t have to explain our vision for the future of our church or describe what kind of Senior Pastor we are looking for because the “DNA” of North Shore Fellowship should be well-known to our members, our community and our denomination.
But we need wisdom and guidance from you to see our way forward. We need your help to honor you in the days and months ahead.
Please help us to honor you in everything we say and do.
Fourth, please pray for peace and justice in our city and country and for wise laws and practices on the part of our leaders and in all spheres of government and society. Pray that God would be merciful to us, healing the brokenhearted, melting those of us who are bitter or hard-hearted, and drawing us to himself. Pray that he would make us a people marked by love and compassion and truth. Pray that he would help us see the world as we ought, love others as we ought, and listen and learn from others’ perspectives and experiences. Pray also for our sister churches: Church of the First Born, New City in Glenwood, and New City East Lake, where the East Lake neighborhood (in particular the Hispanic community there) has been particularly hard hit by coronavirus in recent weeks.
Finally, the Bible very clearly tells us that our job isn’t just to pray. Our job is to listen well to those who are hurting with empathy. We should lament the segregation, the inequity, the inequality, and the lack of shalom that haunts the black community in the city we love. Above all, our job is to love not merely with words but with actions, treating others as bearers of God’s image, affirming and protecting their dignity, and seeking ways to heal the wounds that legacies of sin continue to inflict.
Living and loving in a broken, raw world isn’t easy. Emily reminded me recently that our relationships and our service always involve risk. We’re always taking risks when we connect and when we love. When I pull up to a home or a hospital or a funeral home or begin a counseling session in the middle of someone’s deep personal tragedy, I’m always aware of the risk in showing up. “Will I say too little? Will I say too much? Will I be misunderstood?” But we are called to strive for love and justice and beauty and truth, knowing we may well fall short of anything that looks like success.
North Shore Fellowship will continue to learn what it means to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with our God in Chattanooga in the 21st century. Please know that we as pastors are available to listen and talk. You can text or call me at 617.390.6826, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.