We care about the world, and we are all troubled by what we have witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia during the past few months, especially in the weeks since August 14, 2017. Charlottesville may seem a bit far removed from Cold Spring, and of course, in many ways south Jersey is decidedly different than the urban South. But since before the first Revolutionary War hero was buried in our cemetery, Cold Spring Church’s congregation recognized that hatred has no place in this country. No place. Ever.
As followers of Jesus, we are representative citizens of faith who continue to do whatever it takes to work for freedom, justice, and liberty for all. And while how this commitment is expressed from time to time, we can confidently remember that our own declaration of faith as a Presbyterian congregation and our affirmation of freedom predates the Declaration of Independence by 60 years!
More than 300 years ago, citizens in greater Cape May, New Jersey gathered together to put their faith on the line at the crossroads of life when they established Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. We are connected to that stream of faith, and our own stream has even branched out to start other faith communities, too. The Living Water flows deep at Cold Spring Church.
How can love, hopefulness, mutual respect, inclusion, and equality overcome hatred and fear? You can listen to a message from August 20, 2017 (click here) entitled, From Chaos To Hope from Mark 5:1-20, that shows how Jesus confronted racism and hatred (Jews vs Romans, region vs region, rich vs poor) that while timeless, is especially relevant to Charlottesville today. The hate-filled challenges to freedom by white supremacists and Nazis were opposed by those who stood at their own crossroads and even sacrificed their lives.
As followers of Jesus Christ we not only share core Christian beliefs in our worship, but core Christian practice in mission as agents of God’s blessing in and with the communities at large. Among our core values are love, hopefulness, mutual respect, inclusion, and equality for all. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17). We are on a mission. A mission from God.
The Apostle Paul said we should not exclude based on religion, social status, or gender (Galatians 3:28-29), and it is neither about conservative or liberal, young or old, or personal preferences. We engage, respect, and even welcome a diversity of thoughts, opinions, politics, and even distinctives about theology because all of us grow when all of us are involved, listening and learning together, and holding each other to positive change and behaviors. We are against what hates.
Cold Spring Church stands for something at the crossroads. We are a sign of God’s presence, peace, and power to bring hope and abundance to all. We continue to listen, pray, and work together as we seek to offer everyone access to spiritual energy. We keep finding new, creative, ways to tell the old, but greatest story ever told in ways that makes sense and can be truly heard by others, not just rehearing it by ourselves.
Please join with me in prayer for all of us as a nation, particularly those most affected by the hatred-fueled violence in Charlottesville. Let’s continue to be people of inclusion and peace in our families, neighborhoods, and places of recreation, work, and education. What we do in our life matters.
When we stand at the crossroads of chaos and hope we need not despair because the hope, peace, and courage Jesus offers us “has conquered the world” (John 14:28-29, 16:33). What will you do?