From the Senior Pastor
Kindness in an Age of Incivility
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” Galatians 5:22–23
The election of 2016 is behind us and we wait in anticipation the inauguration of the country’s 45th president on January 20. Unfortunately, the social climate in which we find ourselves leaves us wondering what tomorrow will bring. Will we ever be able to get along? Will we ever be able to work together for the common good? Will we ever build a society in which all people are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness?
These questions permeate not only our society but also the church. Christians in this country in recent years have used the strategy of winning the combative way as it has engaged social issues. Those of us who have been representing the gospel have often been caustic and harsh, picking fights with those whose views are hostile to ours. We often lead with unkindness, but the truth we’re living into is that our increasingly shrill sounds in the public square are not strengthening our witness but weakening it. There is another way.
According to Barry H. Corey, the author of Love Kindness, the way of kindness—treating those with whom we disagree with charity and civility—is more in line with the call of Jesus to follow him. It doesn’t mean that we don’t stand courageously for what we deem right, true, and just. “Kindness is not incompatible with courage, although courage does not always embody kindness. Too often our centers are firm on conviction, but our edges are also hard in our tactics.” Often this looks like aggression.
On the other hand, kindness is not the same thing as niceness. While aggression has a firm center and hard edges, niceness has soft edges and a spongy center. Niceness may be pleasant, but it lacks conviction. It has no soul.
Corey writes, “Kindness is a biblical way of living. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit on Paul’s short list in Galatians 5. It’s not a duty or an act. It’s the natural result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. We exhale kindness after we inhale what’s been breathed into us by the Spirit. Kindness radiates when we’re earnest about living the way of Christ, the way of the Spirit. Kindness displays the wonder of Christ’s love through us.”
This is our calling as followers of Jesus, especially now in these days of unrest, division, and incivility. We are called to be selfless, humble, vulnerable, open, risky, and faithful, exhibiting extraordinary kindness in all that we say and do, a kindness that opens us to adventurous relationships and the joyful journey of life we would otherwise miss.
The good news is that kindness has the potential to be contagious. When otherwise inconsequential, indifferent, marginalized, proud, stubborn, condemned individuals receive our genuine kindness, grace happens, love wins the day, and lives are transformed in ways that not only change people from the inside out but, as kindness is shared by those who have received it, our society is reshaped to resemble more and more the kingdom of God Jesus initiated all those years ago.
So what do you think? As we begin a new year together as followers of Jesus, might we strive for lives with firm centers and soft edges? Yes, it’s counter-cultural. Yes, it will be risky, especially in this day and age. But it will be a life that will witness to the hope and the love that we have received from Jesus himself and which Jesus intends for all.
New Year blessings to you all,
Pr. Randy Gehring
Quotations from “The Radical Call of Kindness: Why the Church Must Recover Christian Compassion in an Age of Incivility” by Barry H. Corey, Biola Magazine, Summer 2016.
OSL Annual Meeting
The annual meeting of the congregation will take place on Sunday, January 29, at 12:15 p.m., in The Gathering Place. A light lunch will be served.
Informational forums are planned prior to the meeting to provide a preview of discussion items on the meeting agenda. The forum on January 8 will provide information on the possible sale of three rental properties on Summit Avenue and a proposed transitional housing unit on the south end of the OSL property. The forum on January 22 will provide a preview of the 2017 proposed budget, OSL’s plan for ministry in the new year. Both forums will be held in the chapel, at 10:00 a.m.
December 10, 2016
Parker Lee Van Muyden, the son of Jason Van Muyden and Mindy Cleland.
Reddek J. Speer, the son of Jason and Kaari Speer.
December 11, 2016
Everett Joel Anderson, the son of Ryan and Brittany Anderson.
December 17, 2016
Chloe Grace Lorenzen, the daughter of Jennifer Brockberg and granddaughter of Joan Rollag.
Your Offering Makes a Difference
Your generosity is making a real difference in people’s lives through the mission and ministry of OSL. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving and your passionate commitment to God’s work through this congregation. Your continued generosity helps us reach our congregational goal of fully funding our ministry of connecting faith to everyday life.
Ministry Support through November 30, 2016
Pledged – $1,768,616
Received YTD – $1,690,374
Remaining – $78,242
Projected YTD – $1,684,954
Ahead/(Behind) – $5,420
Memorials and Honoraria
In Memory of Richard Larson
In Memory of Roy Marten
Jack and Cheryl Dyvig
Gilmore and Dorothy Koepsell
Kim and Kristi Lindquist
John and Marlene Norberg
Paul and Susan Rohde
Curtis and Frances Ruud
Dan Schley and Barbara Haig
Curt and Elaine Sandvall
John and Grayce VanderWaal
John and Linda Wulff
In Memory of Joan Ness
Philip and Kathleen Doescher
Don and Judith Gohl
Merle and Kae Klinkenborg
Lyle and Gloria McKichan
Carlyle and Janet Naessig
Eldon and Pauline Nelson
In Memory of Pr. Bruce Williams
David and Ruth Erickson
Larry and Linda Potton
December 11, 2016
Telecasts sponsored in memory of Dee Birger by Shirley and Luverne Vehle.
December 18, 2016
Telecasts sponsored by an anonymous donor.