First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, a Member Church of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and More Light Presbyterians

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Worship – 9:30 a.m.
Childcare is available for infants through preschool age, downstairs in Rooms 4 and 5.
ReVision Mission Study Session Four – 11:00 a.m.

From the Pastor/Head of Staff

Art: “Christ and the Woman of Canaan” by Sadao Watanabe

Following the news out of Charlottesville, Virginia, has been stunning, for the obvious reasons, but also because many of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists consider themselves to be Christians. One of the organizers of the rally, Matthew Heimbach, calls Paoli, Indiana, home, and considers himself an Orthodox Christian, although the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America excommunicated him after public pressure following the release of photos showing him beating a University of Indiana student with an Orthodox cross. How is it possible that neo-Nazis and white supremacists consider themselves Christians? Jesus of Nazareth was a Palestinian Jew. All of his first followers were Jews. And Jesus said that we are to love our enemies. The mental gymnastics required by Heimbach to rationalize this defy understanding. What he and his followers demonstrate is the distorting power of hate. General George S. Patton also considered himself a Christian, but Eric Lichtblau, in his book The Nazis Next Door, offers a glimpse of Patton’s raging anti-Semitism. After a report was released at the end of the war revealing how displaced persons, especially in the camps, were being mistreated, Patton fumed. He wrote in his diary that the author of the report believed “that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals.” Knowing what he knew about the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews, knowing that the conditions in the camps which the army discovered could in no way be the fault of the displaced persons, how could Patton hold such a warped perspective? Hate is the only answer. Martin Luther King, Jr., captured the distorting power of hate. “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

The long story of God’s ways with God’s world tells us about the ever-expanding, transformative embrace of God’s love. More and more people find themselves included. Ever more barriers to God’s love get broken down and overcome. The Apostle Paul summarized it most profoundly in his letter to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The transformation of creation itself begun by the coming of Jesus into the world is that complete. Join us on Sunday as we hear about and contemplate the encounter Jesus had with a poor woman who sought healing for her daughter, and how she helped Jesus understand that he came not just for the children of Israel, but for all of us.