THE GOOD NEWS
I had a conversation recently with a person in this congregation for whom I care deeply. She gave me some feedback
on a sermon I gave a few weeks ago. It was difficult for her to tell me how she felt, but she spoke out of love,
kindness, and respect for our relationship. She told me how she felt about the excerpt I read from our presiding
bishop’s letter to our current administration.
Her feedback was and is clear…. it was not about Jesus’ words about being salt and light that offended her, not
Jesus’ mandate to love your enemy nor the old testament passages about welcoming the sojourner and the stranger. It
was about the inclusion of a certain phrase in Bishop Eaton’s letter which left her feeling distanced. These words, she
told me, conveyed the opposite message of listening, tolerance and love that the rest of the sermon proclaimed.
I asked her about other aspects of our congregation, about our reaching out to our Muslim neighbors, our
advocacy with Bread for the World, our work with the homeless and outreach to our mostly Latino neighborhood. She
told me how much she loved these aspects of ministry at San Marcos Lutheran. She said these efforts demonstrate that
we are a loving, responsive congregation. However, she told me, words heard as polarizing do not demonstrate that
I can see her point. Because she came to me in the spirit of love and a desire to speak from her heart, we could better
understand each other and our relationship was restored.
This is a tough time to be a preacher. It is challenging to navigate these waters, as we hear the words of the prophets
to “do justly and love mercy” (Micah 6:8), and God’s mandate to “loose the bonds of injustice…and to break
every yoke” (Isaiah 58). Yet we know we have different opinions about how to live out our calling as followers
of Jesus Christ. This point we cannot compromise: Our purpose is to be as faithful as we can to the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. We must always remember are followers of Jesus before we are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens
It became clear that we must make the practice of listening a top priority. I summarize the words we read each
Wednesday at our Centering Prayer gathering:
“As a member of this community, I listen to others from my heart. Within each person is a core of goodness,
of strength, and of love. I put aside superficial feelings for other persons and their opinions. I try to understand the
heart of what others are sharing. I listen to others with a non-judgmental attitude. I try to hear the others
perception of reality. I may not agree with it, but I can affirm that person’s right to a different point of view. I listen to
others with love. I listen to others with a shared trust. I speak from my own unique experience.”
This dear sister in Christ demonstrated to me that loving relationships can cover a multitude of differences. Even
when we don’t see eye-to-eye on political or social issues, our common love of Christ can keep us united and allow us
to diligently pursue God’s agenda of Shalom.
She and I agree that she probably isn’t the only one in the congregation who feels this way. We are a purple
congregation. But more importantly, we strive to be a loving, Christ-following congregation.
If you would like to talk about this or any other aspect of life at San Marcos Lutheran, my door is open or you can call
me and we’ll talk. Peace be upon you……Pastor Karla
THE GOOD NEWS