Love and Patience
With our daily podcast on a bit of a pause, I'm writing a weekly newsletter, at least for the summer months. There is a lot going on in and around New City, and my hope is this will help keep you informed and connected.
- This week we're back for our third weekend of in-person services. If you haven't registered for a service this weekend yet, head on over to Church Center and register.
- The elders at New City released a pastoral letter concerning race and justice yesterday. I hope you got to a chance to read and reflect upon it. Some folks from New City also participated in a protest with other churches on Sunday at Washington Park. You can see a news story on that HERE.
- It was fun to see one of our New City Kids in the news this week. Speaking of NCK, since the covid19 shutdown we've had 7 kiddos make their way into the world. Welcome Nathaniel Burgess, Avi Kingsley, Eden Evers, Leo Tran, Magnus Lyons, Fern Leow and Sophia Walker!
- Men's Summer Bible Studies are starting in July. We hope you can get connected to one.
Love and Patience
Way back in March (which seems like a decade ago), Paige and I packed up the kids and made the long 12 hour trek to see my parents. I would not describe my family as particularly "good travelers." Potty stops abound (and seemingly never in any syncronized fashion); we bicker constantly about food stops; and the litany of "I'm bored" registering from the backseat rivals any Gregorian chant both in repetition and volume. But none of those things are my chief concern as we set out on the journey. Paige and I always begin the time by talking to the kids about patience. Particularly being patient with one another.
Pastor Mike's sermon Sunday was from the Apostle Paul's phrase "Love is patient." The old-timey word for this is "long-suffering," or "love suffers long," or "love is slow to anger." I can't think of a more crucial concept for a long car ride with children, but this applies to much more than road trips. All community life really is dependent on this concept.
Mike rightly pointed out the distinction that God does not call us to be patient with sin and evil, but he does call us to be exceedingly patient with people. Paul himself models this in the epistle to the Corinthians. On the one hand, much of the letter is Paul's admonishment of the Corinthian church. By any measure this church seems to be a total mess, and yet, Paul doesn't give up on them. He doesn't cut them off. He continues to call them "brothers and sisters" (1 Corinthians 1:26; 12:1; 15:58), and even "saints" (1 Corinthians 1:2). At one point, he does recommend an excommunication (1 Corinthians 5:1), but what's so shocking is all the other times he doesn't recommend this, given the level of error and unrighteousness in this church. Paul suffers long with the Corinthians.
This is difficult to do at any time, but I think it's exacerbated during the time of coronavirus where, as one friend puts it, we have all the challenges of community but without a lot of the embodied blessings of being together. Tuesday's reading from Proverbs 15 gives us a master class in how to navigate community life during complex times. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention" (Proverbs 15:18). "Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence... humility comes before honor" (Proverbs 15:32-33).
As Mike reminded us this weekend, God himself has been long-suffering with us (Exodus 34:6). We are called then to suffer long with each other. Patient love is a crucial component, not just of family road trips, but of life together in the church.
Worth a Look
- Juneteenth is this Friday. If you don't know much about this day, read this essay by Jemar Tisby about the significance of Juneteenth for black Americans and why it should be significant for all Americans.
- Andy Crouch has a thought-provoking piece on how, when and why to consume news.