LEARNING

We are committed to helping others grow and develop holistically.

We also encourage learning at all ages. 

One should never stop expanding their mind, no matter how much time goes by.

PASTORAL LETTER

November 2020

 

Dear friend,

 

Recently, I had an outdoor visit with someone on his deck. When I arrived at this person’s property, the host received me with a warm smile, a warm cup of cider, and a warm slice of pumpkin pie. What got my attention, however, was the t-shirt the host was wearing. It had a provocative and catchy message: an emblem of a donkey embroidered on it with a slogan that read, “Jesus didn’t enter Jerusalem riding an elephant.” The nuanced message of the t-shirt implies that Jesus was a Democrat.

 

Whether one is a staunch conservative, a curious independent, or a deep-dish progressive, one has to admit that the t-shirt is cleverly designed.

 

Leading up to the election, the age-old question of whether Jesus was a Democrat or a Republican has been part of the national discourse in some circles.

 

I have always been curious about this phenomenon. So, I contacted friends of mine who have posted on social media that Jesus represents their party of choice and asked for them to share their biblical rationale to support their claims.

 

My progressive friends feel that Jesus’s empathy for the poor would make him a Democrat and a supporter of safety-net programs. They cited the miraculous multiplication of five fishes and two loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people who were hungry (Mark 6:30-34), and his enduring statement in The Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), to bolster their point.

 

My conservative friends, for their part, are convinced that Jesus would have been aligned with the traditional Republican positions of pro-life and pro-military. They understand Jesus’s words in two biblical passages to represent the view that the deprivation of life is wrong, and that true loyalty is expressed in sacrificial living, like a soldier. The passages shared with me were John 10:10, when Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”, and, John 15:13, “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

 

So, what was he? While I found the arguments and biblical passages wielded by my friends interesting, I am not persuaded. There is always a danger in using the Bible to domesticate Jesus and turn him into a mascot of our political orientation. So, I personally believe that Jesus was neither.

 

In fact, Jesus made it clear that he was not interested in attaching his moral vision to any political structure or secular ruler of his time, and arguably our present time, when he said in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

 

The word “kingdom” derives from the Greek word Basilea, and this word means the intervening rule of God on earth. The best we can do as people of faith is to engage in faithful waiting and in faithful civic duty, understanding that God is going to make things right solely by God’s power when the Messiah returns.

 

Let us keep in mind that when Jesus performed his temporal ministry in first-century Palestine, there were at least six major social movements with a political and religious focus. They were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, and the Zealots, among others. These groups all had a unique way of addressing the vexing problem of Roman rule. For example, the Zealots believed in guerilla military tactics as a solution, while the Pharisees believed in excessively religious and dogmatic tactics as a solution. Jesus must have felt that what these groups had to offer was insincere, because he criticized them, referring to one of the groups as “snakes” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23) for deceiving the public with false hope and not informing them that true and enduring salvation comes from above.

 

In writing this letter, I came across the words of a scholar in The Washington Post. In his guest column, titled “Jesus Isn’t Interested in America’s Two-Party System”, the author makes the point that Jesus was neither a Democrat nor a Republican. “To follow Jesus will inevitably require us to walk away from long-held political loyalties to reorder our lives around a constellation of values shaped by Jesus’ teaching, his example, his death, his resurrection, and his lordship over all things.” (Michael Bird)

 

In light of the author’s words, do we take our cues from Jesus’s message in the Gospels, or do we take our talking points from our political party of choice?

Whether or not our candidate of choice prevailed on November 3, the important thing to remember is that our ultimate faith is in what God promises to do for us. In the meantime, all we can do is vote and serve as an ambassador of our Christian values in the public square through our speech and deeds.

 

No matter who wins, our faith reminds us that God’s kingdom will make things right through our commitment to justice and God’s Messianic reign. No matter who wins, let us pray for the well-being of the candidates and for the transition of our country into a place of healing and prosperity. No matter who wins, let us commit ourselves to serving and blessing our neighbor, especially those neighbors who don’t share our political ideology.

 

Blessings!

 

Pastor Luis

 

*The election’s results were not clear at the time of print.*

Click HERE for the full November 2020 newsletter!

See below for previous pastoral letters:

March 14, 2020

March 18, 2020: Jesus and Suffering

March 19, 2020

April 5, 2020

Easter 2020

April 19, 2020

April 26, 2020

Mother's Day 2020

May 31, 2020

June 7, 2020

September 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

SUNDAY SCHOOL

During our Sunday morning worship services,

we have a short children's sermon,

after which the children proceed to Christian Ed. 

Sunday school is held for children in grades K-12.

Nursery care is available for little ones of pre-school age and younger!

Due to the safety protocols of our reopening, 

our Sunday School program is currently suspended.

Check out our CHILDREN'S/YOUTH MINISTRY page

for online resources for our younger congregants!

LUNCH & LEARN

Led by Dr. Bruce Chilton of the Bard College
Sponsored by

the Rhinebeck Reformed Church and

the Jewish Federation of Dutchess of County

Time: 12:30 - 1 p.m. lunch
1 - 1:45 p.m. lecture
1:45 to 2 p.m. questions and answers

Please contact the church to RSVP for this free event. 

The Lunch & Learn series is temporarily postponed

due to concerns regarding COVID-19.

See our LUNCH & LEARN page

for video lectures from Dr. Bruce Chilton!

CARING FOR CREATION COMMITTEE

This committee strives to teach about good environmental practices

through events and programs that lead to 

more sustainable mindsets and lives.

Our mission is to help protect and cherish all that God has created.

Check out this exciting update from David Baldauf:

SOLAR ELECTRICITY FOR THE CHURCH

Hallelujah, the church is lighting up with solar energy!

Beginning last March, just before the lockdown,

the Caring for Creation Committee was instrumental in signing up the church for Community Solar,

wherein we receive our electricity from solar panels

in a remote installation provided by the Nexamp Corporation.

This is achieved at no cost to the church, with the electricity provided as usual via Central Hudson.

Using solar panels to generate our electricity eliminates the need for Central Hudson to burn fossil fuel, which disperses carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - a contributor to climate change.

So far, over these six months, the church has avoided the release of over 10,000 pounds of co2:

that's the equivalent of planting 78 trees!

Signing up through the Community Solar program also encourages companies to invest

in building more solar arrays which other homes and businesses could utilize.

What the church has done is a model of what our congregants could do as well for their homes.

You can contact me (send a message through the website) for general information on how to get started.

~ David Baldauf

Rhinebeck Reformed Church is a nearly 300 year old congregation with a timeless mission. That is, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and to provide fellowship and spiritual uplift to church members, to the larger Rhinebeck area, and surrounding New York communities as well as to visitors to our area.

ABOUT US
CONTACT US

845.876.3727

 

6368 Mill Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

 

rhinebeckreformed@frontiernet.net

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