January 7, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
After a long night of reflection and prayer. I feel the need to communicate some things about the startling happenings of the day.
It should have never come to this. One of the most wonderful things about the United States of America is our tolerance, even encouragement, of Free Speech. In many countries around the world—especially dictatorships, monarchies, communist and other authoritarian regimes—any kind of dissenting opinions or criticism of the government are stamped out, sometimes violently. Not here. Our country’s founders believed that the people should speak up. Dissenting voices and unpopular opinions would be protected. Criticism of leadership would be common. Our republic could not only “take it” without falling apart, but would be stronger for it. The founders were right. With some limitations for libel and slander and inciting violence, we can believe and say anything we want. And we are, indeed, stronger for it. So, you won’t hear any impassioned political arguments from me. When it comes to worldly politics, believe what you want.
However, it should have never come to this. We love free speech and freedom of expression (including your “vote”) so much that we provide several layers of protections. Almost anyone can run for office. Want a new political party? Then, start one. Go ahead. Have unusual political beliefs? Let’s hear it! If someone tries to stop you from expressing your beliefs, there are laws to protect you. Eventually we vote, and almost all Americans get a vote, if they want it. So, we elect people to govern and write laws and such. We disagree. We always disagree, but we vote and we settle it, and even those who haven’t changed their minds accept that it has been fairly settled. But we even have protections for that! In place are provisions for lawsuits and recounts and audits. Before this year, did you ever realize how many steps of approvals and certifications of the vote—local, state, federal and, sometimes, judiciary—there are for even an undisputed vote. This is good. The process needs to be thoroughly examined. And it is.
Does this settle the hearts and minds of everyone, even after all those steps? Of course not. Never has. I know that there are some who will never stop believing that the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. unfairly handed the election to the wrong candidate. That it is unfair and wrong how it went down. That there is no way that the Republican should have become president over the Democrat. No, I did not mis-type that. I am talking about Bush vs. Gore. Remember how hot that was? But we accepted that the result was the result, and we moved on. Still with some disagreement. But we moved peacefully on. Now, after all the many steps, the Democrat has been declared the winner over the Republican. Many people agree boisterously. Many people vehemently disagree. I am not being sarcastic or snotty when I ask, “So what?”
It should have never come to this. The “storming of the capital” is not one of the carefully crafted and put-in-place protections or responses. Even when you passionately disagree with the outcome of the entire process, if the entire process has been utilized—then here we are. By the way, it is never actually over. There is always the next election. If you think it should have gone another way, then make your case! Write a new platform. Nominate another candidate. Run a great campaign. If your ideas sway the voting public, maybe next time your side wins. No one in the U.S.A. rules forever. We have no king, no monarchy, no ruling family.
That said, the storming of the capital should have never happened. It was a step—an illegal and disturbing step—too far.
After all that, you might be surprised to know that I am not too worried about it. Order has been restored. The Congress went back to work and completed their constitutional duties. Whether the result was pleasing to you or not, the process has been completed and the rule of law has prevailed. The election is officially settled. Even the president—while still disagreeing—has allowed that the process is over and there will be a “peaceful transfer of power.” We are okay and the union is strong. The dissent is not over and gone, but when is it ever? We will continue forward in fitful, jerky steps, but we will proceed.
The most important thing that I wish to include today, is that my rock, my anchor, my focus and my sure and certain hope in the future has not changed or wavered even a little bit! God has not changed. God’s promises are still good. Our ultimate destiny is still as sure and as marvelous as ever. Take a moment and think of all of the most shocking and disruptive human happenings in the history of this world. Massive wars. Massive death. Genocide. Millions upon millions murdered by authoritarian rulers and power-mongers. The list is long. And yet, there is God, as majestic and powerful and loving and merciful as ever. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, hear me. We are fine. God is good. Amen.
In Christ’s love;
January 3, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
Unless things change in the next few days, it looks like the latest Covid-19 surge is slowing down, in Muskegon and Oceana counties. I encourage everyone to keep up the good work. The plan for now is to re-start in-person worship on January 17th. That means that people (like you!) can then start attending the 9:00 a.m. Sunday service in Montague or the 11:00 a.m. service at the Praise Center in Whitehall. The same protocols that were in place earlier in the fall will be in effect. Attendees must wear a mask the whole time they are in the building, keep a distance of at least six feet from others, unless they live in the same household, sanitize hands often, and leave without congregating, after the service. There will be no food or beverages served. As the Montague worship gathering is a high-risk group, there will be no congregational singing. At the praise band service in Whitehall, people may sing as long as they keep their mask on. Anyone who is highly vulnerable to respiratory disease should stay home, as should anyone who is not feeling well or may have been exposed to someone with the virus.
We will continue to make the services available on live-stream at YouTube: White Lake United Methodist Church or YouTube: WhiteLakePraiseCenter. In addition, the 9:00 a.m. service is on Real Gold Radio at 98.9 FM. In fact, we will keep up with these services even after all this Covid stuff is history!
The seating plan has been improved. Parts of the pews have been covered with colorful fabric. Please, do not sit where the fabric is (and please don’t move the fabric). The sections with no fabric are open for use. Same-household members may sit close together. Everyone else must keep the six-feet distance. If you are the first to be seated in an open section of a pew, please sit at one end of the open section, or the other. If you sit in the center, there will be no way anyone else can sit in that pew, at an appropriate distance. Thank you. If we use this simple system properly, we will be able to safely seat significantly more people in our sanctuaries.
Looking forward to January 17th!
In Christ’s Love,