The Pastor’s Pen: December 16, 2018

The Senior Choir’s outstanding rendering of Handel’s Messiah last Sunday was an example of the excellence it has exhibited in presenting this oratorio over the years. For 80 uninterrupted years, the Senior Choir, through Handel’s Messiah, has led the Washington metropolitan area in preparing for Christmas. For sure, the singing of the Messiah is the beginning of Christmas here at Shiloh.  Again, we salute our Senior Choir for their hard work and dedication to excellence in their presentation of God’s message through this sacred masterpiece. To God be the glory!

We also commend our Gospel Choir and Wallace Charles Smith Ensemble for their spirit-filled rendering of excerpts from Quincy Jones’ Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration at our 10:55 worship service on Messiah Sunday. The worship service was overflowing with joy and celebration, that helped to create a memorable Messiah Sunday. May God continue to bless and keep our beloved and outstanding singing units of Shiloh.

This Sunday, we observe the fourth Sunday of Advent. As we have said for the last several weeks, Advent is the season of light that guides us through the darkness of a fallen world. God, through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, provided us with the Holy Light of Advent. That Light is desperately needed in these dark political and moral times we presently experience. Our federal government has abdicated all semblance of integrity and decency. The sentencing of Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and counsel, is an indication of the philosophical bankruptcy that we as a nation are now witnessing. Cohen pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison for violating campaign finance laws, and in a statement before the court, he said, “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” meaning Trump, “for the principal purpose of influencing the election for president in 2016.” Cohen also pled guilty to lying to the Senate about knowledge he had about the construction of the Trump Tower in Moscow, and for lying to Congress about a proposed real-estate deal in Russia by the Trump organization. The Book of Hebrews is replete with Scriptures that encourage moral men and women to speak out and not be silent when political powers are unapologetic in their moral repugnance.

Elijah was in a tough position politically when he took on the sins of King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel. However, Elijah never shied from “speaking truth to power.” He risked his life to call the nation of Israel to a clear understanding of the evils of the king and queen in ignoring God’s Word and capitulating to the worship of Baal, a total affront to God’s leadership of the people of Israel. After all, it was not Baal who emancipated Israel from Egyptian bondage, it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that same God who watched over the people of Israel as they navigated the fierce challenges of the wilderness and encountered, fought and beat the formidable armies of the Canaanite people when they crossed the Jordan River. God was, has been, and will always be the only sovereign we as God’s people can rely on and depend upon.

A bipartisan group of 44 former Senators published the following statement in the Washington Post last week: “As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.” Our responsibility as the church of the living God is clear; we cannot and must not remain silent. In this dreadful season of darkness, the churchs message must ring out and proclaim that political and all forms of darkness can be overcome by embracing the light of Jesus Christ and fearlessly facing threats and recriminations that the darkness will attempt to bring upon us.