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Protests and Silver Linings

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Mar 09 in Musings
In the end, it was mostly a non-issue. When we heard last week that the Westboro Baptist folks would be bringing their abrasive and hate-filled picket signs to Hollywood, and to Hollywood Presbyterian specifically, we needed to do a number of things. Talk to our staff and elders. Do some research with other churches and pastors. Talk to an attorney. Pray- lots of prayer. Write a letter to inform the congregation. Communicate with the LAPD. Strategize. Pray- lots of prayer.
We didn't really know what would happen on Sunday, March 4th. In the end...it was mostly a non-issue. A handful of Westboro picketers appeared some distance away, across the Gower intersection from the church. A few signs, a little music and after thirty minutes it was all over.

To be honest, it felt a little anticlimactic, though blessedly so. I found myself thinking- "I probably put at least ten hours into all those preparations. Was it a waste of time?"  Then I thought "God has this way of showing up in ways we don't always notice. So, what happened with all this bustle that reflected the Lord's goodness? What did we see that we might not have without this picketing threat?"

One answer was immediately apparent. Thanks to the wonder of e-mail communication, by 8:30am Sunday we had over two dozen elders, deacons and staff walking the perimeter of the FPCH campus. They walked in pairs, greeted people with warmth and cheer, educated anyone who didn't know what was going on, and covered our campus in prayer. That doesn't happen on an average Sunday morning, but it was a beautiful thing. What a great atmosphere for walking into worship!

It never would have happened if there wasn't a "problem."  This is significantly more profound than "every cloud has a silver lining." It is more like "God keeps showing up, even when there are stormy clouds all around." In fact, especially when there are. God shows up, and our job is to look for Him. This is what God's people do- keep watch. Here's how Habakkuk says it:  "I will stay at my post and keep watch, to see what the Lord will say." 
 
See you soon,
      
       Pastor Dan

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