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With thanksgiving

Children praying at dinner

In this edition of Home Words Bound, the Rev. Benton Heisler overcomes anxiety with hope and looks forward to thanksgiving.

BENTON HEISLER
Director of Connectional Ministry

Rev. Benton HeislerHave no anxiety about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

I have noticed that in most every conversation I have been a part of in recent weeks, the word anxiety or an expression of anxious thoughts and behavior have come up.

Really? What’s to be concerned about? Now, with a new governor, the roads will be fixed! That’s curious. I have been in construction zones every summer in multiple places the last 20 years. Republican and Democrat governors alike. I wonder what our new governor knows about asphalt, concrete, water and freezing and taxes that nobody else knew to date? I guess I will not worry and simply watch.

Have no anxiety! Right, now everybody can smoke marijuana! What could go wrong with that?! I guess I must have been reading fake news about “increased teen use” and “gateway drugs” and “increases in impaired driving.” I am sure the second-hand smoke wont’ be any problem for any small children in a home. These young brains will be more relaxed, less anxious and able to focus on math, science and reading. Test scores will increase, and behavior issues will dissipate. What a great country!

I know what we can do! Let’s let everybody who is incarcerated vote! Florida thought it was a good idea and passed that law, even though Michigan and 34 other states think it is a bad idea. Maybe we can just legalize “straight ticket balloting,” that way nobody has to be able to use discernment, reasoning, or study some competing facts about ideas and approaches in order to elect people on the merit of their unique ideas, regardless of party affiliation. Oh, wait. Michigan just approved such an item!

I do not expect the media to get it “right.” Never have and never will. They sell the twist that sells the advertising time and draws the viewers. I don’t expect the politicians to get it right. They never have and never will. The contracts are too lucrative, the power too seductive, the security and benefits too enticing. As an elementary school child, I remember hearing the cost of a helicopter that was shot down in the Vietnam war. The amount of money was more than the school millage that had just been turned down. I also remember there was no mention of the lives lost, and I thought to myself, “What if that had been my dad flying that chopper?” 

War goes on and the price of helicopters increases. Teachers are still underpaid and expected to be “in loco parentis,” in place of the parents. Bad idea when I learned the phrase in my teacher education classes in college, bad idea today! Legally protective of the child yes, but cover every aspect of positive moral behavior, character, the 3 R’s, science and provide at least some opportunity for artistic expression. Wait, don’t tell me they have reduced art and music!!??

And then, there is the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference! No worry or pressure there!

Yes, I am being “bummer Benton cynical,” or is it a bit of prophetic announcement? Time will tell. 

What I do know is that the verses of Philippians go on: “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (4:8) This is where I intend to focus time and energy!   

I do expect the Church to at least offer an alternative to worry and anxiety and help the culture understand what is, “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise.”  So, to that end we must continue. The late Bishop Edsel Ammons put it best in a sermon I recall him preaching at Annual Conference, “Preach Christ Simply and Simply Preach Christ.”

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words,” St Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying.  

So go the second mile, turn the other cheek, love your enemy, pray for those that persecute you, love your neighbor as yourself, believe that with God nothing is impossible, and trust in the Lord with all your heart. Know that, “God has a plan for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a Future .” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I suggest you print out this above paragraph and post it someplace you are likely to see it at about the same time you get the next “robo-call” and you feel inspired to say something on social media you may later regret.

I end with a verse the pastor, who was at my United Methodist Church while I was in high school, used every week. We didn’t agree on every political or social issue, but this verse stuck! (His name was Rev. Tom Jones, he died too young as a result of exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. He lived as a peacemaker.)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 8 & 9)

“Let your prayers and requests be made known with thanksgiving!”   

 Amen to that!

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