FROM THE RECTOR
What God Wants
Pastor Paula White-Cain, of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida has recently been in the news, partly because of her role as a spiritual advisor to President Trump and partly because of the proclamations that she made on televangelist Jim Bakker’s show a few weeks ago, about God’s role in the election last November.
If you’re curious about her appearance on Jim Bakker’s show, here’s a link to a Newsweek article about their conversation that also contains a youtube link to that section of the show. I think that it’s fair to say that Paula White-Cain’s comments have elicited praise from some Christians, as well as rebuke from others. In short, Paula White-Cain, and then later Jim Bakker, stated a firm belief that the election of Donald Trump was providential, and could not have taken place if this outcome were not the will of God.
There’s a lot to unpack with what they both said, just from those 4 minutes. But today I’d like reflect on this notion of the inevitability of the will of God. For there are those (and this is not restricted to Christianity) who place their trust in an understanding that every act on this earth (and beyond) has been pre-ordained be God, and therefore reflects the will of God. Now, when the action that you are hoping for takes place—you get the job, or the parking spot, or your preferred Presidential candidate—it is easy to believe this.
But what if the action you have witnessed or endured or caused is hurtful or even catastrophic? Does that mean that this too was the will of God? These questions have been asked by humans for as long as we have been contemplating our lives, our deaths, and what takes place in between. While there are no easy answers, we cannot avoid the questions.
And so it was in a recent conversation with my spiritual director about the nature of will—as in our will and God’s will—that I was stunned by the simplicity and truth of one of his statements: that God doesn’t always get what God wants. While we may wish this to be different, we need only consider Auschwitz, Cambodia, or Rwanda from this past century to see human actions that are profoundly at odds with what we know of God’s desire.
Whether in terms of presidential elections or Super Bowl victories, just because something happens does not necessarily mean that it is consistent with the will of God. I understand, though, where part of this instinct comes from—a desire to have God on our side. And yet, human history across the centuries has shown that this desire often leads to tremendous suffering.
My sense is that rather than trying to get God on our side, we should be paying our attention as to whether or not we are on God’s side. As our Bishop, Marc Andrus, has articulated, that always means looking out for the vulnerable. In biblical terms it’s the widow, the orphan, the destitute. This is where our prayer, personal and political, of attention and of action, should be.
It may well be that God takes part in the political affairs of the United States of America. But before we declare a particular result to be illustrative of God’s will, we must allow that results alone cannot tell us whether God is getting what God wants. For what God desires and how we respond often answer two very different questions.
Stewardship Launch Brunch: Building up in Love
Save the Date: Sunday October 8th at 10:10 am
But speaking truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16
What’s so special about this date? Not only will we be worshiping together at 7:30, 9:00 or 11:15, but at 10:10 am, during formation hour, we are going to gather as a community to launch our Annual Pledge Campaign.
What you can expect at this event:
Food! Ann’s Catering will provide something for everyone regardless of dietary restrictions (vegetarian, gluten-free, non-dairy etc) You will find plenty to fill your plate!
Information! Our Annual Pledge Campaign is going to be different this year. We want to tell you about Stewardship soup & story program, what to expect over the coming weeks and reflect on the many ways we engage in Stewardship at All Souls.
Formation! Our Stewardship Team begins each meeting with prayer and scriptural reflection, and we will be inviting you to join us in similar formational activities.
Fellowship! We will be seated at our wonderful round tables in the Parish Hall and will have opportunities for small group discussions and fellowship.
Our regular adult formation programs will not take place so that everyone can be part of this event. Sunday School for children will continue as usual during the program.
And all of this will happen between 10:10 and 11:00 am. We look forward to seeing you there!