A Note From Pastor Martin's Desk...

 

All We Need is Love

August 16, 2022

I came into pastoral leadership at a challenging time. After decades of growth, the protestant church in America was just starting to come to grips with the fact that it was shrinking. The hand-wringing began in earnest, and we began throwing massive amounts of energy and resources at what we saw as our two main problems: how to get more people, and how to get more money. As I pass my 25-year anniversary of ordination, it seems a good time to look back and see how we’ve done. The truth is, for all our anxious efforts, the sky is still falling. Numbers continue to decline; budgets continue to shrink; worry continues to abound.

 

Why have we been so completely ineffective in solving these problems? There is probably more than one reason. It doesn’t help that the church, and especially the more conservative denominations, continues to view political coercion as an effective means of mission. Experience has consistently shown, however, that when church and state try to inhabit the same space, both are damaged. Morality can only be modeled, never legislated.

 

So why have we been so ineffective? Because we have turned what should be a joy into a burden, an invitation into an obligation. When summarizing his teachings, Jesus reduced it all to one simple idea: love God, love each other, and do so with a prodigal abandon. Loving God does not require knowledge or training, just the will to draw nearer to God. Loving each other does not require business models, clever new approaches, advertising, or new technology, just the willingness to see each other as part of the same family, and to express our love in tangible ways. That’s it. That’s why we’re here. That’s all God wants of us.

 

We are not being asked to develop a program, memorize a gospel, post on Instagram, sign a petition, or open a storefront church. We are being asked to do one thing, and one thing only: to boldly bring the power of love to bear on those around us.

 

The Beatles were right: All we need is love.

 

Surely, this commandment that I am giving you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over and get it so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

Pastor Martin