If you asked me to explain the responsibilities of being a pastor, I am not sure I could list everything. Some of the material is confidential, some I don’t register that I do it, and some would make the conversation longer than it needs to be. Yet, there is one thing I am called to do with no doubt in my mind. I know I proclaim Christ. I proclaim Christ’s love and grace. And because of this, I join with all Christians in standing against the spiritual forces of evil. It is often my responsibility to lead and guide others to stand up against them as well.
So, what are these spiritual forces of evil? They are greed, abuse of power, having other gods besides Christ. What do they look like? They look like not having the same expectations of caring for each other for all people. They look like telling a person to “go back to where they came from.” They look like gossip about another person that damages relationships. They look like not being able to say I’m sorry. They look like thinking there is a hierarchy of good, better, and best for people. They look like pain on the face of people, they look like death of a person or experience of love and trust, they look like actions that are not in line with the teaching of Christ and with scriptures.
The thing is, they are not easy to see or understand. It takes a lot of listening and letting go of personal and systemic ideas of how the world works. Sometimes in our lives we get a chance to meet a person who helps us in seeing and understand this. I had such a privilege when I got to take a coaching class with Rev. Junius Dotson. He was the pastor of Saint Mark UMC in Wichita KS at the time.
After that time, Rev. Dotson went on to become the General Secretary of the UMC. This is the position in the UMC that guides others on how to live out their faith on a global level. Rev. Dotson wrote books such of “Soul Reset” and he was vital in leading the UMC in racial reconciliation and a visionary direction that was inspiring. The man I knew had a love of Christ, a love for his family, and a love to serve. You can learn more about him at https://www.umnews.org
On Wednesday, the world lost a great man as Rev. Dotson died of pancreatic cancer. So, this week I will be remembering and honoring two great men. I will remember Rev. Dotson personally and Ronnie Powell on Saturday. This week my heart is heavy, but I am so honored to know both men. Two men who both stood against injustice as they could. One by his leadership in the church and the other by his true love of all people he met.
Yet, even as my heart is sad, I feel so honored to for having known them. I am honored by having had a chance to listen to their stories. Brothers in Christ who both stood against the spiritual forces of evil in their own ways. My hope? It is that I would keep standing for Christ. That I would keep doing what I feel called to do to serve, remembering I never do this alone. We serve and share together, imperfectly together.
I hope you will join me in standing for justice as Christ our Lord taught us. Listening to each other and praying for each other. One group I ask for prayers for are pastors. During this time the stress is real and it is hard. Pray for wisdom to take time off, for signs of grace and hope, for a reminder we are in this together, united by the Holy Spirit. And prayers that we would all listen more to hear each other’s stories and be changed by them. For we are all children of God, created in God’s image. May we see each other as God sees each of us, with grace and the most unconditional love imaginable.
In Christ’s love, Pastor Tessa