SECOND OPINION: Dear Michelle
I'm probably supposed to call you something more important now that you'll soon be our country's first lady, but I'm not sure what I should call you exactly, and, anyway, we're not much for titles around here.
I thought I'd write because I'm sure your husband is busy choosing Cabinet officials and all that -- and, when it comes to matters of your family's spiritual nurture, I suspect you'll be taking some serious leadership on the very important matter of looking for a faith community in your new town.
So, please consider this an invitation to you and your family to join us in worship at Calvary any Sunday at 11 a.m.
Honestly, I hesitated to write because, well, it's hard enough getting folks to come to church without metal detectors flanking the doors, and I've heard stories about how tough that can be from the folks over at Foundry United Methodist, believe me.
But despite all of that, here's why I'm writing. I suspect that you've been steadily transitioning from the optimistic, energized environment of the campaign to a whole new world where a lot of people around you wear shiny political façades; where policy decisions are often made with political expediency in mind; where ideals and dreams for change quickly become discarded detritus on the side of the road to greater and greater power.
Leading change in times such as these is going to take a heavy toll on your whole family, and the truth is, you're going to need a community that loves and supports you as people, not just as residents of the big White House down the street.
I've never gone to church with a president and his family before, but I think you could find what you need at Calvary.
In a city where political posturing takes up most folks' waking hours Monday through Friday, come Sunday morning lots of people get up and do it again -- at church. And that just gets old really fast. Calvary is a place where we try really hard to get real. Our community works hard to be a place where everything each of us brings to the table -- our pain, doubt, joy, fear -- together they all become a shared experience, where the happy times are happier and the pain is a little lighter.
Even the president's family needs that, right?
I should warn you, though: there's not much easy, lukewarm religion around here. Like the community in which we live, our church is very diverse, with age and race, political persuasion and economic status -- even theological perspective -- varying from pew to pew. But we gather and we do the hard work of Christian community because we are serious about being followers of Jesus Christ, who knew that relationship with God could change us into people who love each other in ways that can change the world. This message, the message of a radical, transformational gospel, is what draws us together every week to worship and learn and serve together, despite our differences.
I figure if you live through the stress of a campaign and you're willing as a whole family to sacrifice what it will take to serve our country, then you must not be people of marginal conviction. And you may be able to flourish in a faith community where you are challenged all the time to live a faith that matters.
You know, I make it a practice to call or write folks who I know are moving to town to invite them to Calvary. I love this community and the ways in which living my faith in this place illustrates for me the deep gift of relationship with Jesus Christ. I can't wait to introduce people to this place where I know for sure they'll be loved -- and certainly that they'll be expected to engage meaningfully.
I've never invited anyone to church by writing a blog entry, but, truthfully, I just didn't know where to send a letter to you.
I'd love to talk more about why Calvary might be a great community for you and yours. I wish you the very best in all the transitions ahead of you, hope that you find good people in this town who will love, nurture and support all four of you, and find the courage and strength you need for the big tasks ahead.
And, if you ever want to hang out, grab some coffee or have lunch, I'm right down the street from your new house.
Very Neighborly Yours, Amy
Amy Butler is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., located just a few blocks from the White House. It was once the faith community to President Warren Harding, the first Baptist to fill the Oval Office. This column is adapted from a Nov. 13 post on her blog and is distributed by Associated Baptist Press.
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