St Mark’s Council met on Tuesday, January 4, to discuss the surge in Covid cases in Delaware and our safety response at St Mark’s.
After a lively discussion we decided to continue having in-person Sunday worship as well as the 10 a.m. Winter Forum for Sunday January 9, 16 and 23rd — with the following restrictions:
There will be no live music. John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, has pre-recorded music that we will use during our services. We are also asking worshippers not to sing.
We are requiring that everyone sit 6 feet away from other worshipping family groups.
We are asking that everyone wear a medical-grade paper mask. We will have them at the church for all those who do not have one. If you prefer a cloth mask, we ask that you wear the paper mask under your cloth mask. These restrictions are for the safety of the people around you.
We will use Communion Kits only. For now, we will not go to the altar for communion.
The Winter Forum will continue as scheduled as long as our presenters are comfortable with our restrictions. Chairs will be socially distanced in the Great Room.
I know this is not how we want to participate in our Church Life at St Mark’s, but the Council believes that for the next few weeks, until this surge is over, these restrictions will enable us to be together, in person.
Admittedly, there is still risk and I can’t guarantee you will not be infected. If you have been exposed to Covid or exposed to people who are unvaccinated please stay home. If you do not feel safe; please stay home. We will continue to have worship services online. We will also have recorded Winter Forum sessions on St Mark’s YouTube site.
There will be information in the coming weeks concerning the Annual Meeting currently scheduled for Sunday, January 30.
Have you seen the restaurant commercial using the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter? It’s a great song and used really well. If you don’t remember the show, you are young enough to look it up on the internet. It’s a sitcom from the 1970’s.
Welcome back, St. Mark’s! At our last last meeting on May 23, Council approved re-opening St. Mark’s following State of Delaware guidance. We have been worshiping in person since the fall, but with many restrictions. What this broader re-opening means, specifically, is this:
If you are vaccinated you are no longer required to wear a mask or social distance at worship if you choose not to do so.
If you prefer to continue masking up and socially distancing — that’s OK, too! It takes awhile to adjust to the new normal.
If you are not vaccinated, please consider getting the shots. You will be required to wear a mask at St. Mark’s and maintain physical distance.
The re-opening also means our choir and contemporary praise band can sing in the sanctuary again, instead of pre-recording all of the music every week. It was amazing to hear live voices again in our sanctuary. As is our normal tradition, live music will take a break for the summer and start again for our Homecoming/Rally Sunday. We’ll be sending more information on that when we are closer to September.
In other news, the roofers are waiting for supplies and I hope they are able to start very soon. The construction industry has taken a big supply hit and prices for materials are extremely high.
Have a wonderful summer! Church Leadership is working hard to get St. Mark’s “back to normal.” I welcome feedback and would love to hear from you with concerns and suggestions.
This past year required lots of change! Here, for example, you can see how Council President Kitty Dombroski rigged up a basket on a pole to collect drive-by votes from a pandemic-safe distance. (Photo by Cheryl Denneny)
I am writing this on Ash Wednesday, 2021. By the time you read this it will be later, but while writing I am reminded of this past year.
Last year, Ash Wednesday was February 26. Our first Lenten Wednesday service (remember those?) was March 4. We gathered for soup and salad. I brought a salad. Jan brought olive bread. Vicki made ham and bean soup. Ann and Kevin made chili. I think I got that right. I used the cheddar cheese from the salad and put it in my chili. There was more and it was really good. Food, people — fellowship. We were talking about the Transition and when were we going to get our new Pastor.
It was the last “normal” in-person event at St Mark’s. Quickly, all the energy in the world was around COVID-19. Or at least it felt that way. Cancelled Wednesday services, cancelled Sunday services, cancelled in-person meetings. WHAT ABOUT EASTER?
Along with the rest of the world we were scrambling and mourning. How do we worship? How do we have Bible Study? How do we have meetings? How do we have all those things that make us St Mark’s?
Enter ZOOM. For most, this was a new concept. Virtual meetings were not “normal,” but we quickly learned. And along the way we learned that the MUTE button is really important.
We purchased equipment for pre-recorded services. John has gotten really good at them.
We were hurled into the technology of the 21st Century. Not without some kicking and screaming and, yes, whining. Or maybe that was just me? Masks, hand sanitizer, CDC recommendations. Oy vey.
And like the faithful Christians before us — we carried on. Is it easy? NO. Is it comfortable? NO. The safety and comfort of our world has been shaken to the core. The world outside our doors and the world within our doors is not the same. We are grieving for the life we had and the people we have lost. We may never be exactly the way we were.
But I have hope. There are lots of good things happening in 2021. The days are starting to get longer. There is a vaccine. Our Call Committee continues to meet and is moving rapidly to the interview phase. We have a lot to look forward to.
The most important part is to keep praying — for the world, for our country, for the Church, for St Mark’s, for our interim Pastor and our new Pastor and, also, not unimportant, for us.
Hold on! That was the sage advice from cool rocker Brittany Howard that I shared back in March when the impact of the pandemic was just getting started. I never thought it would last this long. I’m still listening to the music, changing it up sometimes but the theme remains the same.
St Mark’s has accomplished a lot in the past nine months, despite the difficulties we’ve encountered.
I can’t say enough good things about our Worship and Music Team. With music led by John Lasher, they have provided a weekly service for us, seemingly without major effort — and I know it’s harder and more time consuming than it looks. Pre-recorded, onsite and online — they have switched it up as needed and done a tremendous job.
Our Interim Pastor David Mueller has gone above and beyond, providing pastoral care, calling congregation members and talking to anyone that answers their phone. He has been chatting weekly on YouTube with local experts and friends. They are all online so if you missed any you can still watch them. He has led our Transition Team to sharing our St Mark’s Covenant Journey and asked the Council to form a Call Committee.
The Congregation met and approved the Call Committee members who have now started meeting. They recently sent out a survey to the congregation asking for feedback. The survey is a mandatory step in the Call Process so please get your response to the office ASAP. Yes, I know we’ve filled out multiple surveys over the past couple years. It’s frustrating, but part of the Call Process and they can’t move forward without it. To steal a phrase from Nike — Just Do It. We want the Call Process to move forward smoothly.
Cheryl in the office has kept us moving along as if nothing has changed. She keeps me on task 😊.
We’ve started working on the Annual Meeting (scheduled for Sunday, January 31). The business of the Church is moving forward.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the Hilltop Thanksgiving Baskets and Children’s Christmas gifts. I am amazed at your continued generosity. We have an awesome congregation!
The pandemic is moving into what may be a scary phase of community spread. We’ve cancelled the Bazaar. That was a difficult decision. Many of St Mark’s members have worked hard all year on the Bazaar and the crafts are available. Please contact Ann Boeker-Wilson to schedule an appointment.
We may be moving back to pre-recorded online worship in the coming weeks. We’ll be communicating with you as quickly as possible.
Please stay safe and be good to each other and the world.
HOLD ON — we will get through this!
President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council
Photo of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard by Liza Agsalud of Los Angeles, Calif. / CC BY 2.0
Christmas Eve at St. Mark’s will be quite different this year, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We are planning ONE 7:30 p.m. service. Attendance is limited to 45 worshippers.
For those who have reservations, a reminder that we will follow all safety precautions and ask that you arrive 15-30 minutes before the service begins to allow for the check-in process, social distancing, retrieving your communion packet and finding your seat.
The service will be livestreamed on our YouTube channel for those preferring to worship from home. The link to our Christmas Eve service is below, for your convenience.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, Oct. 4. Using remote technology ensured that everyone had an opportunity to vote.
It was great to see all the members in person and also those who drove to St Mark’s and placed their paper ballot in the plastic bowl attached to the paint roller extension. I am sure it was quite a sight and it definitely added some levity to the inconvenience of not being able to all meet in person!
We needed 36 for a quorum and had 81 ballots. The Committee was elected with 75 votes.
Our Call Committee will start meeting with the Delaware-Maryland Synod Representative this month.
Please continue to pray for St Mark’s, the Call Committee and our new Pastor.
In today’s edition of the Midweek Extra, Interim Pastor David Mueller talks with special guest Mindy Holland, chaplain of Lutheran Campus Ministries at the University of Delaware, one of St. Mark’s ministry partners.
Chaplain Holland talks about her background in the ministry, how campus ministry connects with students’ lives and how things have changed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Students want to engage deeply with Scripture and to engage deeply with complex questions,” she said. “… They want to look at the hard stuff and say how does this relate to me and how do I then turn it around so it can bless others? It’s a rich gift to be with them as they engage these new questions.”
If you have questions you’d like Pastor Mueller to address in future weeks, feel free to call the church office or send an email.
We have waited and prayed and longed for this day! For the first time in almost six months, the sanctuary at St. Mark’s will have worshippers in attendance! Church doors open at 9:45 a.m. and you will see many changes, as you know already if you have watched our “Reopening Day” video.
That’s not to say we have not been worshiping together throughout this long building closure, which was done in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have been together — online!
And thanks to the work of John Lasher and our Worship Committee, that online option will continue for all who are unable to join us in the sanctuary for any reason. See John’s guide to the new “livestreaming” broadcast that starts today at 9:55 a.m.
Many thanks to Interim Pastor David Mueller and John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, for producing the weekly prerecorded worship services that have helped us stay connected as much as possible during this time of extended separation.
Thanks, too, to the musicians and the virtual choir, the worship assistants and all who have continued to support the ongoing ministry of St. Mark’s with your prayers, gifts, mask-making, fundraising, notes of encouragement and other assistance. Thanks to Council President Kitty Dombroski and all who serve with her on the Leadership Council and its Worship Committee. Thanks to Office Manager Cheryl Denneny and Sexton Rick Johnson and all who have given their time and talents during this unexpected interruption of life together.
Now some of us are returning to in-person worship, but many will continue to wait until the virus is brought under control or a vaccine is available. We trust you to make the best decision for you and your family and we want you to be comfortable and connected in the way that suits you best.
We will continue to provide online access to our worship services. They will be broadcast live on our YouTube Channel and then will be archived there for future viewing. You can participate at any time, wherever you have an internet connection.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to develop and refine the tools we use for these broadcasts. We are amazed at the ways God has provided — and we hope to fill you in on some of the stories behind the scenes in the not-too-distant future.
Click on the image below to link to our YouTube livestream. The text of Pastor Mueller’s sermon for today is also available below.
“That Which Cannot Be Overstated” (Matthew 18:15-20)
Interim Pastor David E. Mueller
I believe most of you by now realize how important the righteous acts of Christians are to me. It is never exclusively or even primarily our personal salvation and spiritual well-being. We carry in our redeemed hearts and minds, the compassion, healing impulses and genuine concern for others of Christ.
The story was told decades ago about a certain lighthouse, the obvious purpose of which was to keep ships in the channel and not aground at night. Volunteers showed up regularly to clean, repair and manage the lighthouse so that it continued to fulfill its purpose. But the volunteers started gathering, having parties and neglecting the lighthouse in favor of activities more fun but less noble and necessary. It no longer fulfilled its purpose!
Jesus warns against putting our lights under a bushel basket (Matthew 5:15). The Church, which is not a building but a community of believers, has as its purpose to “let your light so shine, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) When we move in on ourselves and fail to shine for the sake of others, we lose our purpose and reduce Christ’s suffering and death to meaninglessness.
At the very core of the Christian faith, however, is something even more important in a practical way. Without this core, we are not Christians at all for this core is also at the center of the nature of God. I am speaking of forgiveness!
David, in Psalm 103, professes the following: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…. He does not deal with us according to our sins … as far as the east is from the west so far he removes our transgressions from us.” (portion of 8-12)
Remove or ignore this core essence of God to forgive and we lose. Other gods may demand appeasement, sacrifices, rigid rituals, but God invites faith in who He is, and regarding us, what He does in Christ.
Matthew 18:15-20, our Gospel for today, is a powerful if really simple process about our learning to forgive. It is also perhaps one of the most abused portions of the Christian Scriptures, which has been used by Popes and other pious persons to manipulate kings and other leaders. It has been used all too often as a threat: “if you do not do what I/we want, you will be excommunicated.”
Clearly, this passage has been rightly called “Church Discipline.” At the end of the process “if an offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” The Amish in our day and certain churches in the past have called this “shunning!”
Please do not go to the end of the process too quickly. As Christians forgiven, it is both our duty and our delight to be forgivers. This could not be any more serious or special. If we don’t forgive, we are not forgiven. In the prayer our Lord taught us, God the Father does the feeding, the avoiding and the deliverance. The only thing we pray for and do is to be forgiven AS we forgive those who sin against us. The forgiveness petition is the pivot around which the whole prayer matters and the Christian life centers. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7), Jesus shared “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Travel with me to the beginning of this process. If someone in the Church sins against you, “go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.” The Eighth Commandment as we number them is about not bearing false witness. Luther went so far as to say that if we tell the truth about someone for malicious reasons, we are violating this commandment. Bearing false witness implies blabbing about someone else all over the place. The prescription in Matthew 18 begins with keeping the issue, whatever the sin is, contained. But it is more: “If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” The purpose is not to judge the other but to hopefully embrace the other, to hold again the other in positive regard.
If that does not work, “take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” This mandate of two or three and not just one other witness is found in Deuteronomy 19:15 and thus has biblical precedent. Once again the purpose is to reconcile and restore the relationship and not to judge. The others are to witness to your behavior and not just to confirm the intransigence of the perpetrator.
If that does not work, “tell it to the church.” Only after several truly righteous attempts to straighten out the mess does it become potentially a public embarrassment and sanction. If even that does not work, then the person is to be shamed and shunned.
As antiquated as this process may seem and as abused throughout history as it has been, there are very practical advantages, especially to the forgiver whether the forgivee is moved to acknowledgment or not.
My favorite account in the Hebrew scriptures is the story of Joseph which takes up a significant amount of biblical space, Genesis 37-50. Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery. They were forced to come to Egypt to obtain grain due to a drought in Palestine 25 years later. They did not recognize Joseph and after Joseph’s own ruse — holding the youngest brother Benjamin responsible for a theft — he revealed himself to them. They all moved to Egypt, where the Hebrews would spend 435 years. Seventeen years after moving to Egypt, their father Jacob died. The brothers freaked out, believing now the axe of Joseph’s wrath was surely going to fall. What Joseph said to them in Genesis 50:15-21 is as beautiful as it gets. The deepest weeping comes from the forgiver. The brothers did not get their due! They had spent 42 years in guilt, shame and fear.
This is often true of anyone who has been in some way violated and yet has an opportunity to forgive. The one who forgives or is willing to forgive even if the other refuses to accept it, is free of the burden. When as Christians we are in a constant state of being forgiven and forgiving, we are far freer to be about the more positive aspects and privileges of our faith. Forgive us AS we forgive!
There is more. First of all, you do not have to and cannot forgive someone who sinned against someone else. As the Fallwell scandal has surfaced, Becki has been quoted as saying: “I wish Christians were as forgiving as Christ.” She didn’t violate or harm me. Perhaps the students, faculty and administration at Liberty University need to forgive her and her husband but not me. I cannot forgive someone for murdering another. It is noticeable how many of those affected by such a crime, are freed of a lifetime of anger and anxiety when they forgive the perpetrator even if they also get justice in imprisonment.
Secondly, no Christian community including St. Mark’s can or will survive the presence of animus and the absence of forgiveness in its midst. Jesus, still in the Sermon on the Mount says: “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24) This is often associated with Holy Communion. It is first “Holy” because the meal was established by Christ. It is also “common unity” with those partaking with you. You might have heard someone say along the way, at the altar, Holy Communion is between me and God. No it isn’t! God is NOT present when chronic conflict or animosity exists between God’s people. God affirms the reality of His people: if they are forgiving, so is He; if they are not, neither is He!
I believe that we need steady reminders of the power and absolute necessity of forgiving grace all over the place within Christian community. Without it, there is not just something missing, but someone missing. Without God we lose! With God we forgive and win!
If you have shared in our prerecorded worship services, you have seen the technical prowess of John Lasher at work. John, who is the music and worship arts director at St. Mark’s, and Interim Pastor David Mueller, along with our Leadership Council, Worship Committee and many others, all have worked hard to keep our connections alive during the long separation made necessary by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Now, he has information about how things will change for those who worship online and how to access our first “livestreamed” service, which begins at 9:55 a.m. on Sunday, September 6.
St. Mark’s is going live!
John Lasher, director of music and worship arts
Sunday, September 6 is the day St. Mark’s will reopen the church building in a limited capacity to resume worshipping together in person. This will also change how our services are presented online, since they will no longer be prerecorded, but streamed live, in real time.
The link to our live stream will remain the same from week to week. This link — which you can easily find on the homepage of our website — will be used for Sunday services, Christmas Eve and other special services and possibly other events such as weddings or memorial services which take place in our sanctuary (though these latter two will depend on the wishes of the families). We are also tentatively planning a few special live episodes of our Midweek Extra series , which will also be streamed over this same link.
If you happen to visit the link at a time when we’re not streaming, you will either be directed to our YouTube channel page or to a livestream “placeholder” page with suggestions for other videos you may wish to watch (the top suggestion will be one of our most recent videos).
Our Sunday services will always be at the same time (10 a.m. initially, then back to 9 & 11 once things get back to normal), and any other livestream events will be announced well in advance, so you will know when to “tune in.” We will typically take the stream “live” with background music about five minutes before a service/event begins.
Our live streams will be archived on our YouTube channel, so those who are otherwise occupied during the 10 o’clock hour may still view the services later, as they have with the prerecorded services.
Printed copies of the sermons will still be distributed to those without internet access and DVD copies of the service videos are still available to these same members. Once we begin streaming live the DVDs will not be available until sometime after the service ends on Sunday.
In addition to allowing our own members to attend our services online, when unable to do so in person, live streaming is a wonderful means of outreach. Those in our community who may be unable to attend services in person for one reason or another can view our services online (live or archived), and newcomers to the area who may be seeking a new church family may choose to “look in” on St. Mark’s.
We hope you will join us for these live services, and look forward to the outreach potential afforded by this new ministry tool.
When everything seems shaky, it is good to remember the steadfast love of the Lord — and that is the message Interim Pastor David Mueller brings today in our prerecorded worship service.
Join us for this sermon, Scripture readings, prayers and special music during this time of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Our building remains closed for a while longer, but our ministries and worship continue.
In addition to Pastor Mueller, the service is led by John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, and Jeannine Herrmann, worship assistant. Also participating is this week’s virtual choir, including: Dave Herrmann, Allen Kirk, Myrna Kirk, John Lasher, David McClure, John Nichols, Cheryl Powell and Teresa Stebner.
The service also features a solo by John Lasher, singing a new setting of the Lord’s Prayer that he composed.
You can access our prerecorded service using the YouTube link below. The text of Pastor Mueller’s message is also available below.
In the midst of any personal difficulties or needs of any kind as well as in the midst of difficulties or needs we are all experiencing, it is essential that we hold tight to the promises of God. We must acknowledge and learn to appreciate that God will fulfill his promises in his own way and at his own time. God is our Heavenly Father.
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11)
The relationship which has been established between God and a person or persons allows us to trust God, to believe God has our best interests in mind and heart, and will in his time and way, act. Try to relax and be patient.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust him, and he will act…. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:5 & 7a) As shared a few weeks ago, when speaking of prayer, based on Romans 8, we read in verse 28: “We know that all things work together for good, for those who love God….”
It may take a good while, but the good will come. In the meantime, don’t stop loving God!
A word that has significance in both Testaments is “covenant.” There is the “Noatic” covenant in which God promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood. There is the “Abramic” covenant in which God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations. There is the “Davidic” covenant and others, each having God’s assurance of one promise or another.
In our Baptisms, God calls us by name, makes us his own in Jesus Christ and promises never to leave nor to forsake us. Baptism is such a wonderfully simple act with the basic substance of water and the spiritual promise of God’s Word. It is a sad reality that so many of the Baptized forget or forsake that rebirth.
Let’s pray: Lord, renew us in our appreciation of and belief in your promises, sealed in the blood of Jesus, serviced in the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us for in any way treating lightly or casually this eternal hope. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
On what basis are you a Christian? Hopefully we all know it is not on the basis of our imperfect behavior. Hopefully we all celebrate that becoming and remaining a Christian is purely on account of God’s amazing grace. Hopefully deep within our hearts, we have faith — that is, confidence —in God precisely because of Jesus.
On what basis was an Israelite an Israelite? Did a bunch of tribal people out of the blue in the desert one day decide to call upon God to save them? Hardly! God decided to call them and mold them into His chosen people, as resistant, hesitant and intransigent as they tended to be all along the way. The “covenant” was sealed for the male children in the act of circumcision. The male children were only 8 days old, not quite yet of an age of personal decision. God decided!
Somewhere along the line, did God decide to forsake his promises to the Israelites, later, the Jews? Had God finally had it with them, after sending prophet after prophet and blessing after blessing? Perhaps it was not until most of them rejected Jesus as the Messiah? Unbelievably, there are those who count the Holocaust as punishment for killing the Christ. Articulating this nauseates me.
The point is that we human beings — Jews and Gentiles alike — forsake our part of the covenant God has in some form or another made with us, but God never forsakes his part. If God does, we are all in very deep trouble.
Romans 11:29: “FOR THE GIFTS AND THE CALL OF GOD ARE IRREVOCABLE.”
Earlier, before writing this incredible statement, Paul about his Israelite family wrote this: “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” (11:2)
If God is given to breaking promises, what do we have left in our relationship with God? If God had finally had it with the Jews for whatever reason, what is to keep God from forsaking us when we so consistently fail in doing our part?
When I read the Hebrew Scriptures, I am invariably struck by the vivid contrast between the unfaithful behavior of the Jews and the constant grace of God.
Listen to Isaiah (63:7): “I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
Listen to David the Psalmist (92:1-2): “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing your praises, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night.” There are dozens of Psalm verses which say the same.
Listen to Jeremiah in Lamentations, a book seldom quoted (3:22): “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.”
In Romans 11:30-31, Paul makes a fascinating claim, namely, that the disobedience of the Jews occasions the broadening of God’s mercy to include us. It is as if to say that had the Jews done their righteous and obedient part, we might not have gained access to God’s grace, mercy and love.
Anyone, however, Jew or Gentile, then or now or in between, who takes God’s grace and twists, abuses or uses it as an excuse to behave as we please has not known the depth, breadth and height of God’s grace to begin with. Just because God is as God is, that is, tenacious in his love of humanity, does not give humanity an excuse to hate, hurt and harm others because we will be forgiven anyway.
At the same time, when we fail and fall short of God’s glory, what we trust is not our capacity to make amends, but God’s promise to forgive in Christ. In my ministry, there have been times when the only resource I had was God’s grace toward me and toward whoever I was ministering to, especially in the midst of great tragedy or grievous sin. God is so gracious, tenacious, loving, merciful and good that what we can and must do is depend upon God and rejoice in His Name.
Especially in our day, there remains a profound issue which is extremely important to me: the condition and fate of the Palestinian people. Just as Paul did not trade hates when he became a Christian, so also I need not cross borders and take a side as I have become committed to justice for the Palestinian people. Technically, the Delaware Churches for
Middle Eastern Peace and its national counterpart, stand as neutral in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I participate in and support that organization.
There are all sorts and kinds of tensions and conflicts the world over, at least 40 skirmishes going on at any given time. Some are relatively minor, others are major and deadly. None is seemingly as complex and significant as in Israel.
It tends to be that as things go in the Middle East, so goes the world. I have often said that when someone in Israel/Palestine eats garlic, the world burps. It is a geopolitical nightmare, for which there is no easy solution.
I once heard in a national Jewish-Christian conference from a Jewish scholar and rabbi that if Jews, here and over there, disagree, sometimes profoundly, about the policies of the government of Israel, we Americans and others are free to disagree as well. It would be difficult to avoid calling Israeli policies toward the Palestinian people as anything other than oppressive. While I have political concerns herein, there is an even greater issue for me.
The Christian population between 1948 and the establishment of the modern state of Israel and the present has nose-dived from 17% to less than 1%. I genuinely and passionately believe that there must remain as strong a Christian witness there as anywhere else on earth.
Mrs. Mueller and I have two goddaughters there, who with their parents are Arab Israelis, that is, Arab citizens in the Jewish State. They matter to us as do other Palestinians we know and care about, even as we know and care about Jews there as well.
I could go on and on about this, but allow me to finish by suggesting that a resolution to this problem is as “God-sized” an issue as any other on earth. If you believe that, then please with me remember the Jews and Palestinians in your prayers, pay attention to our own American political positions toward peace there, and allow the Lord to use you in whatever way as agents of peace. That is, I so very strongly believe, as Jesus would have it. Amen.