Dear Evanston Vineyard Church Family,

By now, most of the country has voted and knowing who the next president of our country will be is only a matter of time. We’re holding our breath. This political moment feels particularly fraught, laced with anxiety and fear. We’re dealing with a global pandemic that is only getting worse day by day. This season has unmasked systemic racism and injustice. We’ve mourned the lives of many Black and Brown brothers and sisters. The church has faced a critical inflection point.

This has been a hard season. It’s not surprising for us to feel grief, anxiety, and even anger. I feel those things, too. It’s totally normal and I think Jesus would come to us as He did to the disciples in the Upper Room and say, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). I’m praying for you everyday to experience the magnificence of God’s love for you in Jesus. He is the Rock that is higher than us. May He hold us in uncertainty!

As we approach this next four years, I’d like to humbly offer some of my perspective.

My hope is in Jesus. He tells me in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus is my leader. Jesus is my king. In Him and in His coming kingdom, I place ALL of my hope. This is a choice that I make and I encourage you to do it, too. This, I pray, is not a blind, anxious burrowing away from the world but is a hopeful posture to be “like Him” “in the world.” Jesus alone is my safe harbor, and He’s also the One who calls me into action, to bring the foretaste of His kingdom in every space I occupy. Would you join me? Let’s “do” the Sermon on the Mount in our daily lives, as we become like Jesus.

My burden is for my country and I will continue to pray for its welfare and its leader. The Apostle Paul encourages us to do this in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Keep in mind that the Apostle Paul was writing this letter to people in occupied territory, under Roman rule. The Roman emperor was, quite simply, not a virtuous person. And so, likewise, no matter our situation, we can also pray. Pray with me! Pray for our leader, that he might know Jesus as we know Him, and know His love and power. Pray that our policies would change, so that injustice would end. Pray for peace.

And as for the Evanston Vineyard, regardless of who our political leaders are, we will be the same people. Our church will continue to care about the same things. We will be for the poor, for the immigrant, for those “lowly and despised” (1 Corinthians 1:28) and for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). We will still run our Food Pantry and our Care Center. We will be what Paul calls “ministers of reconciliation”, working to reconcile all people to one another so that we all can experience the Peace of Christ. For decades, our church has had a strong social conscience and has worked toward social justice. That’s not going to change.

Finally, as Jesus blessed the peacemakers and called them children of God, let’s also be peacemakers. Let’s be kind. Let’s reconcile. Let’s “as far as it depends on (us), live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).

“Take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ Jesus.

Grace to you,

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