TWO WORDS FOR PASTORS:
Compassion & Perspective
Fear is fear. When people have the courage to come to us to share their fear, it is an honor. It shows respect for our work. It shows hope. We are called to respond with listening ears and compassionate hearts.
“You’re being irrational,” is not helpful. I repeat, fear is fear.
“Just get over it,” is not helpful. As I said, fear is fear.
And, worst of all, “I lived through it when Obama was elected,” is not helpful. You felt loss four and eight years ago. I understand. But were you afraid? Has any prior campaign in your memory demeaned women and their rights? Do you remember a presidential candidate threatening to deport an entire race or register all adherents to a religion? Has any other elected president campaigned with a promise to revoke past actions which could result in the loss of your marriage?
Fear is fear. Fearful people need to be heard. Prayers are called for. Hope in God needs to be offered. And promises need to be made. Pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can assure the fearful that our church is working for women’s rights, providing assistance to refugees, standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslim neighbors, blessings marriages of LGBTQ people, and more and more and more. If you don’t adhere to the practices of this church, you owe it to those in fear to connect them with a pastor who does (and you owe it to your church to speak with your bishop).
Care for those who fear.
When we preach we are not looking out on a huge number of people who voted like us; nor are we looking at a bunch of people who voted against our candidate. National statistics tell us that about 46% of eligible voters did not vote. About 4% voted for third party candidates. About 25% of the population voted for Hillary Clinton. So Donald Trump was elected by about 25% of voters. [Perspective: This is not a mandate.]
So when we preach we see the people we saw last month – Democrats and Republicans, those who love their neighbor and those who want them deported, those who fear Muslims and those who want to know their neighbors better, and on, and on, and on.
When we preach we see a mission field – just as needy as the world outside out worship space. We see people who need the Gospel. We name for them the fears and worries of our world and we proclaim the Good News. And we pray that it will lead to hearts that work for the wholeness of our world.