Dear Dyersburg FUMC Family, 

Last Sunday in worship I prayed for peace for our country, for comfort for the families of those who lost their lives last Wednesday, and for wisdom for our leaders in this time of chaos and disruption. In my sermon I referenced the brokenness of our country that can only be healed by the unleashing of the Holy Spirit. Today I share more pointed words about our country’s situation—on the heels of terror and violence last Wednesday we are now aware that the FBI is warning of the possibility of armed insurrection in all 50 state capital cities in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration on January 20. 

I want to be clear about what it means to be followers of Jesus in the midst of this unrest and this heightened anxiety. 

First is the topic of allegiance. During the last year or so, many of us have, perhaps unintentionally, given our allegiance to a political party, a politician, or an ideology as a way of identifying ourselves and our loyalties. The ultimate allegiance for anyone who claims to be a Christian is never nation, party, policy, or leader but only ever Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the source of all our hope, the beginning and end of our salvation, and the embodiment of God’s kingdom. To pledge our loyalty to anyone or anything else is idolatrous at best and only gets worse from there. 

Second is the topic of violence, and I take this from the writing of my friend and colleague, Rev. Kate Murphy, 

Christians don’t glorify violence. PERIOD. Christians don’t threaten their enemies. PERIOD. Christians don’t kill their enemies;, they die for them. 

If the ideology that claims our loyalty calls for violence, destruction, death or anything other than self-sacrificial love, it is not of God and must be called evil. I invite you to join me in praying for peace in the coming days, for safety for those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, for wisdom for those who lead us, for the courage for spiritual leaders to name evil and injustice for what they are, and for the peace of Christ to descend on the world through the unleashing of the Holy Spirit. 

Your Back to Worship team has discerned that we will resume in-person worship on January 17th. We will keep the exact same protocols with which we have been operating (social distancing, temperature checks, wearing masks for the duration of the service) and will worship at both 8:30 and 10:00am, with the 10:00am service being livestreamed. We are looking forward to worshiping in person with you again and pray God’s peace and healing on us all. 

Holding the world in prayer, Mary Beth