Searching For Relevance

A Positive Response

February 24, 2017

I am writing this blog as a way of growing from the interesting events of this past Sunday’s worship which

caused all of us some degree of uneasiness. My intent was to draw the distinctions between my understanding of “public and private” prayer. Nothing more! Hindsight, however, is always 20/20, and if I were to do so again, I would select a different context,

Weekly, I am called to be inspiring, relevant, truthful (*there are those who Google facts and comments during

sermons) and as faithfully honest as I can be, somehow blending my fallible faith with a vulnerable opening of my soul. What I say is then subject to the interpretation and critique of those listening. I do my best to be

sensitive to this, but I have discovered that there can sometimes be a great “distance” twixt speaker and

listener in this process, with much added or subtracted in-between. My intent this past Sunday was to speak

specifically about “prayer — public and private”. And, regardless of who might have initiated my thought

process in this regard, my understanding of prayer — public vs. private — would have remained the same.

The responsibility I fully accept, was in underestimating the depth of emotion surrounding almost everything

these days. I do not believe we should ever cease discussing matters involving our common life, however, in an increasingly complex, diverse and presently agitated society, the manner and context in which we do so must be carefully examined. We are all familiar with Jesus saying, “Where two or three are gathered, I am in their midst. What we forget is that wherever “two or three are gathered,” there are six to eight varying opinions.

What I think Jesus is reminding us, is that the “truth lies somewhere in the middle.” And it is only through

Christ-like dialogue, that it is revealed. Tension is inherent wherever freedom is treasured — it only becomes

a concern when it results in conflict rather than creative dissonance. And there is a big difference! The

former destroys, while the latter initiates new beginnings. Marriages that overcome conflict understand this

as they work toward a new paradigm for living together through the safe environment of counseling.

Institutions should do the same!!! (*perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul relates the church’s common life to

that of a marriage between us and God). I believe this . . . and will consciously do better.

With this in mind, it is important for us to establish safe settings where we can respectfully address issues

that baffle, stress, and at times divide us. To not do so is to passively allow the gaps in understanding that

currently divide our society, to expand. None of us desires that! So, during Lent, we will be leading a Bible

study that examines the role of “Church in Society.” Is the Gospel only about our individuals needs or

problems, or is there a broader call for its application. Every Sunday we are sent back into the world singing,

“Go light your candle." Is this just nice song, or does it have a more significant meaning?

In these group settings, we will study and discuss, through specific Biblical examples, how this subject was

identified and historically applied. Concurrently, we have invited several individuals to join us, sharing how life looks through an alternative set of eyes:

March 13 6:30 pm ~ Rev. Dr. Raymond Hargrove - Dr. Hargrove’s education includes attending the

United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, East Carolina University, Greenville, North

Carolina (B.S), Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina (M. Div.), and The School of

Theology, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey (Doctorate).

Dr. Hargrove also has certifications from the National Coalition Building Institute, Washington, DC in

Diversity Awareness/Prejudice Reduction; Mediation Skills Training Institute, Lombard Mennonite Peace

Center, Lombard, IL in Conflict Intervention and Executive Leadership Training from the Executive

Leadership Institute at Hartford, Seminary, in Hartford, CT.

March (TBA) Zai Alayan - Zai is a UPS Executive, lives in New Jersey, is a Muslim of Palestinian heritage, his wife Joumana, is Syrian, and works at the United Nations.

The format for these conversations will be carefully created to promote sharing through caring. There is no

agenda other than presenting the opportunity to walk in the “shoes” of those who have experienced life from a different perspective. I hope you will make plans to join us — this opportunity may not come around again.

Again, thank you for sharing all of your thoughts, concerns, and love with me. I have, and will continue to meet with anyone who would like to confidentially visit further. Pass-A-Grille Beach Church is a wonderful community of faith where we continually remain committed to spiritual growth though learning. Let us continue to press forward in that great tradition.

In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Keith Haemmelmann