Dear Friends –

To paraphrase Shakespeare, “This is the summer of our discontent.” Heat indexes contributed, along with random acts of violence, as well as politics that make only a few happy. Shooting by police and shooting of police. Racism run amok. Terrorists at work at home and abroad. There is a new tragedy almost every day. It is enough to make one despair. However, these events need to be put in perspective. Listen to these words in a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber:
“Evil might have the news cycle. But it does not have the victory. The darkness does not get to have our hearts, it does not get to fill our minds, it does not get to steal our joy. And looking for the love, the light, the kindness in the world around us is not the same as pretending that evil isn’t evil.

 So by all means let us name evil for what it is, let’s root out the sin and racism within us, let us fight for justice, but then let us turn the cameras toward the light, lest we become so consumed by the effects of evil that we miss the chance to be kind to a stranger, and we miss the chance to stop and read to our kids and we miss the chance to notice how acts of beauty and kindness outnumber acts of evil by the thousands, because in so doing we hand evil a bigger victory than it earned when in fact it has already lost.”

Yes, there are more acts of kindness, acts of racial reconciliation, and expressions of good will than we can imagine. It is just that evil has a better press agent.

Yes, you and I can make the world a better place by how we act, speak, and by what we support, and (dare I say it?), we will make America greater by making our church greater – by strengthening our church and its ministries of mercy and compassion, education, and the character development of youth. This fall, cast your vote for a greater Mount Olivet by financially pledging and giving.

A story is told about a church-goer named William, who was promoting tithing among his fellow church members. His friend, Charlie, said to him, “With all this talk about tithing, it seems like you are trying to make us feel guilty about what we give to church.” William backed off.  Yet, this is what William wishes he had said:
“I hate to tell you this, Charlie, but you are guilty; so it is not inappropriate for you to feel guilty. Guilt feelings may be God’s way of telling you that you are doing something wrong. But here’s something else, and that is this: you are forgiven. If you do not feel forgiven, maybe you should listen to the gospel more carefully – and let that reality penetrate your feelings. And above all, the question remains the same, Charlie: guilty and forgiven, what are you going to do this year?”

Yes, Grace Changes Everything! See you in church on Rally Sunday, September 11!

Pastor Dennis Johnson
Interim Senior Pastor