Across the Pastor’s Desk: There is always another way

Published 8:00 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Joy Knoppel

Joy Knoppel

Grace and peace to you from God who is, who was, and who is to come.

I’d like to preface this article by recognizing that my knowledge and understanding of the deep religious and political history between Israel and Hamas is quite limited (same with Russia and Ukraine). I also recognize that I am an American who benefits greatly from the pain of others — I am not in a war zone fighting for my country or the safety of my country. This is merely a thought piece.

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As they say, “history repeats itself” and right now it seems as if we are stuck in a cycle of war. The war in Russia and Ukraine is still raging on. The war between Israel and Hamas has escalated yet again. It doesn’t matter if you read the New York Times or CNN, everywhere you look there is a “side” to take. Are you for or against Israel? Are you for or against Ukraine?

Which side are you on?

War is already divisive enough, and as a church I can’t help but wonder if we only add to it by picking a “side.” A majority of us are surrounded by privilege. We have access to resources, jobs, shelter, families, etc. and have a safety net that most of the world does not have. Who are we to pick a “side?”

I can’t help but wonder if a better question for us as a church would be “who has power and how is it being used?” It’s not about “sides,” it’s about an imbalance of power and what happens when that power is abused.

Think about the life and ministry of Jesus. One of the reasons why Jesus was hung on a cross was because of power. To deliver a message that Caesar was not king back then was absolutely ludicrous and many people in power did not like it. The religious elite were constantly trying to trick Jesus and setting him up for failure because they feared their own power being taken away — it did not seem right that everyone could be a part of the kingdom of God. As a result of their abuse of power Jesus was hung on a cross and even mocked for being a king because they did not realize what was actually going on.

It is important for us as a church to realize that when we try to separate things into “good” or “bad” we limit ourselves from thinking deeper about what the underlying issues actually are.

We take sides without really understanding what we are even siding with (the angry crowds mocking Jesus were probably just following what everyone else was doing!), which oftentimes causes more harm than good. I’m no expert, but I have to believe that there is always another way….

Joy Knoppel is a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.