On the first Sunday after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, I found myself in church. I know, I was surprised too. It was a conservative church, in a conservative demographic, with a conservative yet mindful pastor. The pastor, a thin man in his 40s, began to speak. I’m quoting this word for word because I still remember the moment clearly…
“I know a lot of you are here this morning with heavy hearts” he said…
“For many here, the election did not have the outcome we desired. I want to remind you this morning that he will be our next president. The people have spoken, and it is on our best interest to stand for what we believe, but to respect the will of the people and to respect the office.”
It didn’t surprise me that he spoke these words, again, he’s a mindful man or I would not have been there. What did surprise me though, is what happened while he was still speaking those words. He got booed, and by more than a handful of angry congregants. I have witnessed much in my life that has shaken my sensibilities. I have never though, seen a pastor get booed by his congregation.
If it had ended there, I might write it off to an emotional response during a vulnerable time in our culture. However, in subsequent days the pastor received anonymous threating emails and letters. Though his job was quite secure, there were some on the church’s board of directors that confronted him about his statement. They suggested to him that it was ill-advised. A few even tried to push him out, while some attempted to cajole him, suggesting he resign, despite his success in growing that church.
Eight years later, I am glad to say he still leads that church, and remains one of the more mindful evangelical minsters I have ever known.
His words that morning though, and the congregation’s reaction, have resonated with me ever since. That unsavory moment is bubbling in my mind again this week. I am reminded that as a species, we tend to be at our very best when things are at their very worst, yet there are always exceptions to this. Those exceptions can be cancerous.
Emotions run strong. Passion is the worst kind of social lubricant, and I am reminded that some of the worst choices ever made were made under the influence of inspiration.
Stop. Wait. Observe. Respond intelligently. Conduct with decorum. This is all I can do this week. Be well… rc
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