Adieu to the Dew

I have made a decision this Lent to say so long to Mountain Dew. Pray for me. Pray for my family and co-workers. I run on ice-cold caffeine and depriving my system of it for the next 40 days will be…..interesting.

As we begin this Lenten season I am hoping that my decision to subtract the Dew from my life will in someway bring me closer to God. I pray that subtracting something that is a big part of my daily life (unfortunately) will not only make me feel better physically, but it will also spiritually bring me to a clearer understanding of what that time in the desert for Jesus must truly have been like. That it will help me appreciate the sacrifices made by Jesus for each one of us so many years ago.

I know….it’s sound like quite the stretch….me giving up Mountain Dew vs. Jesus giving up his life. It’s not a game with a scoreboard and God’s not keeping track of the things we do and the things we don’t do. God doesn’t rank someone who gives up the internet for Lent over me who is giving up the Dew. It’s about a personal journey and a personal understanding of sacrifice.

We have challenged our high school students in youth group to not only subtract something from their lives this Lent, but to also add something. Maybe it’s time in prayer on a regular basis, maybe it’s giving to a charity, maybe it’s complimenting 5 people everyday. They have been challenged to post their Lenten ADDITIONS and SUBTRACTIONS on Instagram under the hashtag #waypointlent. Check it out.

What am I adding? I am adding phone calls to my Lent. I am TERRIBLE about returning phone calls and there are a lot of good friends who I am pledging to ring up between now and Easter.

What’s your hope for your own life during this Lent? Are you even stopping to consider Lent or making ADDITIONS or SUBTRACTIONS to your life? Or is this just another day in another week in another month?

I look forward to this journey and hopefully losing a few lb’s along the way. I will miss you Dew. But it’s worth it if it even brings me one step closer to a fuller, more complete understanding of my own faith journey.

Big prayers to all of you as you travel through this Lent with your own sacrifices.

Bigger prayers to all of us who are shunning caffeine…..are we nuts?

Adieu! -Nate

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So much to love, So little time

Have you ever just let your brain wander and think about all the things in your life that bring you joy? The things you love? I imagine all of our lists of love would be quite different, but there would certainly be some overlap. What would those overlaps be? Do we need more things we love to be loved by everyone? Or do we just need more love?

Here are just a few….ok a lot of things I love: Jesus, my beautiful wife Lisa, my incredible son Max, my family, my friends, my home. I love thunderstorms, Chipotle, sunroofs, country music, summer breezes, summer days, summer nights, summer in general. I love Sunday mornings with a lot of people I love. I also love some Sunday mornings with a lot of people wearing brown and orange I don’t know in a parking lot in downtown Cleveland. I love live comedy and fresh popcorn and Pilgrim Hills and campfires and the TV show Ridiculousness. I love watching Lebron play basketball and I love conspiracy theories.  I love Algonquin Park and backcountry canoe trips. I love movies about summer camp like Meatballs and Indian Summer. I’d love TO own a summer camp someday.  I love going for runs….short runs, I love hiking, golfing…sometimes, flea markets, going pickin, driving through Amish Country, grilling out, root beer floats, collecting coins and an ice cold Pepsi. I love a week in June called Sportscamp, I love teenagers, I love fans and 92.3 the Fan, I love five guys burgers and the smoked buffalo wings at Fatheads. I love farts – they are universally, always, without a doubt….hilarious. I love traveling and trying new things. I love people that stand up for injustice in the world. I love people that try to save endangered animals and the planet. I love Twitter and Instagram. I love freedom. Freedom to say what I want, to love who and what I want, to come and go as I please, to belief what I believe in. I love Mario Kart and ping-pong. I love whitewater rafting and the Zac Brown Band. I love big front porches and snow blowers and catching up with old friends. I love the Wonder Years and Friday Night Lights and the Walking Dead and the 4th of July. I love tailgating – not on the highway, before concerts and football games. I love Opening Day in Cleveland. I love the West Side Market and Dave’s Cosmic Subs. I love Christmas and the Christmas Season and the music and honeybaked hams and big perch and perogie dinners in Erie, PA.  I love meeting new people and taking pictures. I love stargazing and Cedar Point. I love helping others and playing kanjam. I love being organized and I love March Madness. I love things like the Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament and the SH Mission Trip and the Dirty Dog 5K and the Dog Wash. I love going to weddings and our little garden next to our driveway. I love getting whomped at chess by my wife and having friends over to our house. I love this tiny planet we call home. I love my sisters and brothers all over the world. I love living without fear. I love peace. I love being happy. I love life.

This list is just a sampling of what I love and how my crazy brain works. I don’t know who your Valentine is this weekend. Maybe you don’t have one, but we all certainly love something or many somethings like myself.

I think it’s good. Healthy. Helpful. Spiritual. To remember and recite all of the things we love. Little or big. Strange or normal. When we do this we get ourselves in touch with a part of our soul that far too many of us don’t like to talk about or deal with. That part of our soul that handles love. That part of our soul that helps us feel good and feel alive and feel close to our maker.

Here’s to love and the one who created love and sent us love and displayed that love in a way none of us could ever imagine.

#letthatlovelive

Much love, Nate

CAMP.

I can still remember the days leading up to camp when I was a kid. My Mom especially would look forward to it almost as much as I did. As I packed she was busy writing out the directions to camp, turn for turn, with about 62 different highlighters covering the page. This was our Garmin, our GPS, our turn by turn voice navigated directional app…..in the early 90’s. My Dad generally couldn’t handle my Mom’s erratic, fast driving so he opted for the backseat with my sister. That left me to navigate for my Mom. As she crested hills on Rt. 206 we were certain we were going to launch to the moon and my Dad was terrified of a buggy on the other side of the hill. Thankfully we never got major air or encountered a buggy on any of those hills, but we will never forget those trips. The were beautifully chaotic and something we just did every June.

I remember the first time I got a phone call after I graduated from some lady named Renee Pore, asking if I was available to be a counselor at Sportscamp that summer. Are you kidding me? It’s all I ever was hoping for since I ever started going to Sportscamp. One problem I was currently working for Pepsi and putting in 65-70 hours a week. I asked my boss, he said no. Well actually he said “If you decide to go to that camp, don’t even bother coming in tomorrow.” So I didn’t go in that tomorrow. I was betting the farm and I called his bluff. He called me that morning and I told him how much I have been looking forward to this and he hemmed and hawed and finally said he’d let me go, but I had better plan on working every weekend the rest of the summer. #boom. I didn’t care. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I still recall my first time showing up to be a counselor….on a Saturday. I had never been to Sportscamp on a Saturday. I had no idea what happened behind the scenes in preparation for this incredible week. I was nervous, I was excited, but I couldn’t be happier, because I was at camp. I remember pulling into camp about the same time as another kid I kind of knew from camp. His name was Nate Vaill…it was the only reason I knew of him. He had the same name as me. We waited in that parking lot for what seemed forever because we didn’t have a cell phone and we didn’t know where to go. But we caught up, we reminisced about the things we did as campers and how much different being a counselor was going to be and how great it was to be back. That was in 2000….today he’s one of my closest friends.

I still remember the heavy, full court press promotion of camp I gave to two young ladies in youth group as I was just a few years into this new position at Avon Lake U.C.C. I remember thinking how much they would love camp and I remember them looking at my like I had three eyeballs. I still remember the joy of watching them and so many other young people in our church fall completely in love with these hills. Today it is a privilege to counsel side by side with Taylor and Nicole and watch them continue to inspire a new generation of campers to realize just how awesome a week in the woods can be.

There’s no easy way to explain why camp is so special. It’s a perfectly scripted combination of 2 million coincidences, 300,000 chance encounters, a whole boatload of divine intervention, a lifetime worth of grace and an overabundance of fun and laughter. Why…..25 years later….am I as excited for camp as I was as a teenager? Why do I drive an hour out of my way from Cleveland so I can drive the same route we used to drive from Toledo? Why do I have boxes of letters (they were…ummm…..emails before we had computers) and pictures and other camp artifacts?

What I find and what I think many of us who are camp enthusiasts find is that camp, for a week, provides us a tiny glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven will maybe look like? No one is ostracized for their views, you don’t matter any more or less because of the brand of clothes you wear, you are perfectly you and everyone is totally ok with you being you. For a week the pressures of fitting in, avoiding social pressures, keeping up with our strict (insert any sport, instrument, trade, etc.) training regimen….are non-existent. They are absent. For a week kids get to be kids and laugh and dream and explore and play and for a week adults get to relax, dream, laugh, explore and play as well.

I believe the camp experience, at any camp, is so incredibly important for the development of our young people. Legendary outdoors advocate, author and explorer John Muir once said “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” #preeeeeeeaaaach.

This Sunday we will be celebrating and promoting our summer camping programs in the Ohio Conference at Pilgrim Hills this summer. I hope and pray that each of you will consider giving this experience a chance or a second chance or decide that you are not too old for camp or that you can miss a week of open play at the high school for a week. My prayer is that each of you will be able to remember camp with the same admiration and awe that I do even a quarter of a century later.

Hope to see you at camp!

-Nate

p.s. For more information visit http://www.journeythehills.org and remember that we offer to pay 1/2 of the cost, that’s not a typo, we will pay 50% of the cost of camp for any church member. We believe that much in this ministry.

Super Bowl Party

Sunday. 6PM. The Buoy. Be There.

Do we really care about Inflategate? The Browns are not in the Super Bowl so does the game even matter? Let’s be real….Super Bowl parties are all about the food. And our SH Super Bowl Party this Sunday will have some serious food. And serious amounts of it.

The following infographic showed up on my Twitter feed and I thought “This is incredible. I have to share this.” pooperbowlfinalJust to clarify, we will not be contributing to the 49.2 million cases of beer sold on Super Bowl Sunday. But our menu consisting of 200 Buffalo Wild Wings, 10 Large Marco’s Pizzas, a 6′ Subway Party Sub, Las Cazuelas chips, salsa & guacamole, cases upon cases of pop, bottles upon bottles of water, pretzels, chips, candy and popcorn…..should help us contribute to the rest of these statistics.

At halftime we are raffling off all kinds of gift cards and one season pass to America’s Roller Coast….Cedar Point.

You don’t want to miss this party. Bring your friends. Tickets are only $5 and you can buy them at the door.

My recommendation is that you don’t eat all weekend in preparation for Sunday evening. Doors open at 6PM. Not a minute sooner.

See you on Sunday!

-Nate

240 Miles South this July

Every summer in late July we load up 4 or 5, 15 passenger vans and make the journey to Camp Washington. This diverse neighborhood is located in the heart of Cincinnati, and for the past several years, has been the site of our JH Summer Mission Trip.

I can’t really explain to you what makes this trip so incredible. It is completely different from our SH Summer Mission Trip. Maybe it’s the children we get to spend so much time with while we are there. Maybe it’s watching them grow up every year. Maybe it’s serving alongside someone like Pastor Pam Defusco and watching her perform miracles every single day. Maybe it’s watching our young people fall in love with serving others and serving Jesus. It could be the old apartment building we call home for a week, the stifling humidity, the morning worship services, the trip to the overcrowded community pool, living with junior highers for a week or maybe….it’s a little bit of all of this.

Washington U.C.C. in Cincinnati has become an important ministry partner and for many of our young people, it is where they are first introduced to mission work and serving Jesus.

We have made plans to go back again this summer to assist with their summer children program and are hoping that all of our current 7th and 8th grade students will consider joining us on this adventure. This year’s trip is scheduled to leave on Sunday, July 19th and return on Friday, July 24th.

This Monday, immediately following our JH Youth Group, we will be holding a brief informational meeting for parents and students about this summer’s trip. We will have all of the forms you will need to complete, packing lists and hope to answer any questions regarding the trip.

If you are on the fence about this trip…don’t be. Taking this first step in living out our faith can lead to a lifelong addiction to making this world a better place. I can think of lots of worse things to be addicted to.

See you on Monday.

-Nate

It Only Takes a Spark…

…..to get a fire going. Pass it on. Summer camp song mainstay. Anyone?

I have probably sang this song 100 times in the 25+ years that I have been involved in summer camps. Over that better part of a quarter of a century I have found my calling, I have fallen in love with the person God created me to be, I have found some of the best friends a guy could ever ask for, I have experienced the presence of God and had enough fun to fill five lifetimes. Camp is part of my DNA. It feeds my soul and it motivates me to seek Jesus more and more.

In the Ohio Conference of the U.C.C. we are experiencing a time of change and have found ourselves at a crossroads. For the past 50+ years we have owned and operated two campsites in central Ohio, Pilgrim Hills and Templed Hills. Just about a year ago the decision was made to put Templed Hills on sabbatical and move all camps, retreats and other programs to Pilgrim Hills. Along with this decision, the powers that be decided to contract with an organization in California to manage our site(s) and facilities. Over the past several months a Discernment Team called by our Conference Minister has been meeting and exploring our path forward. This path could go in any of several different directions. It could involve the selling of one or possibly both sites. It could involve reopening Templed Hills and operating both sites. No option has been left off of the table.

I have my opinions (of course), but I will save those for another day. We are looking for YOUR feedback and YOUR input. The Discernment Team is looking for feedback and ideas and dreams for this ministry from all of you. In an email from our Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hart, he writes…

If you would like to share your ideas individually, we have established an email address where you can send your thoughts:  
outdoorministryideas@ocucc.org.  We look forward to hearing from you.
 
This information, as well as other research and ideas, will be shared with the Conference Board.  The Board will communicate with the wider Conference about next steps in the decision-making process.
 
The future of our camps and Outdoor Ministries is a very important conversation for our Conference.  By adding your thoughts as a local church members, and by continuing to follow the conversation, you help us to ensure that our future direction reflects the discernment, wisdom and participation of the entire Conference.
 
Thank you for your patience, your prayers and your involvement.
 
Phil Hart
Conference Minister

I have been very outspoken about my desire to see this ministry thrive and reach the potential it has to be the best camping program and facility in all of Ohio. It is only because I care, that I speak so passionately about our camps and speak about them so often. I want my son Max to someday be able to enjoy a camping experience with great fondness and pure unfiltered joy as I have for so many years.

I am asking those of you who value this ministry and the future of it, to please take a moment and send your ideas, your dreams and your thoughts to the email address outdoorministryideas@ocucc.org and help shape the future of this vital ministry.

Remember….it only takes a spark to get a fire going.

Happy Camping!

-Nate

As Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow

Earlier this week, I was feeding Max and scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across a black and white picture of Stuart Scott, ESPN personality and long time sports anchor, with the years of his birth and his death in the corner. The man who made sportscasting cool, the guy who made getting up at the crack of dawn for high school easier….had lost his battle to cancer.

I read a lot of the articles that chronicled his life and watched the 14 minute tribute that ESPN did in his honor, I watched his speech at the ESPY’s and I thought about all of the millions of sports highlights that he had showed me over the years. He even managed to make baseball seem exciting. #skills

People lose their battle with cancer everyday and my heart breaks for so many lives stopped short because of this awful, terrible disease. My prayers go out to the families, the researchers and everyone touched or affected in someway.

As we head in 2015 and I was thinking about the new year and the new opportunities and all the adventures that Max will be taking Lisa and I on….I started to think about the person I am today and the person I am trying to be and the person I hope to be.

There’s a simple, beautiful truth we can learn from Stuart Scott’s life and it was the fact that he never wavered from who he was or what he was about. He was torched when he first started at ESPN for talking the way he did and people told him there was no place for it in sportscasting. He never let any of that affect him. He did his thing and he did it to perfection.

We can’t scroll down our Facebook pages or our Twitter feeds very far without finding someone on a blog like me offering an opinion about something. Someone telling us about the dangers or the importance of vaccinations, someone telling us why the police are being victimized or someone laying out a case for white privilege or someone telling us why Kentucky fans are among the worst sports fans in the land. EDITOR’S NOTE: I fully realize I am too putting another opinion on your feeds for you to read while you are supposed to be working.

I don’t know about you, but it’s all a bit overwhelming. How did our parents and grandparents ever raise children or survive without blogs and Facebook and Twitter and opinions constantly being thrown in their face? They just did their thing.

In 2015 I am going to focus on being me. Nathaniel David Taylor. My Twitter profile reads: Youth Pastor, Husband, Father, Bad Golfer, Lover of Chipotle, Jesus, CLE’s Sports teams and Sunroofs. Mean People suck. Recycle. Laugh. Carpe Diem. #iheart#s.

I am going to focus on serving Jesus and loving my wife and loving my son and trying to get better at golf and probably attempt to not eat as much Chipotle and tell people about Jesus and moan and groan over the continuous saga of my beloved Cleveland Sports Teams and enjoy the few days that I can drive with my sunroof open and I am going to avoid mean people and recycle even more and laugh a lot and embrace and enjoy every single new day and of course inundate all of you with lots and lots of hashtags.

I’m not going to worry about the things I can’t control, but I’ll pray for them.

I’m going to pray for our world, for peace, for an end to homelessness and hunger, for a renewed call to save our planet and the really cool animals that have smaller and fewer pieces of earth to call home. I’m going to pray for an end to racism and anything that’s remotely like it. I’m going to pray for families to stop running all over the countryside chasing something and to spend more time being a family and worshiping together and praying together. I’m going to pray for our leaders in congress to work together and to stop acting like 2nd graders. I’m going to pray for a lot of things this year.

I’m not going to let the noise all around me stop me from being me. I am going to do my thing.

I pray that all of you too….this year….will do your thing and do it with a load of awesomeness.

-Nate

Merry Christmas

I remember July 14th like it was yesterday. I’m not sure what allowed me to be awake for so long. Whether it was adrenaline, fear, Mt. Dew, anticipation, nerves, excitement or maybe some combination of all of that. For nearly nine months we were waiting for this day to finally arrive. Lisa and I had no idea what to expect. All we knew was our reality was going to look a whole lot different very shortly.

From the moment I first laid eyes on Max I knew that my life had in an instant changed forever and that I was experiencing a new love that I have never understood or grasped before in my life. It was a love different than the love I have for my wife. It was a love that was pure and untouched. He hadn’t pooped on me or kept me up at all hours of the night….yet. In some ways my understanding of my faith and Jesus and God and Christmas also changed on July 14th. The words in the gospels felt more real, the story of Mary & Joseph could be related to and love took on entire new meaning.

Unconditional love. I can’t possibly imagine something more comforting, amazing and beautiful than this. Every morning when Max wakes up and he’s all curled up and grabbing his toes and stretching I just look at him and still five months later say to myself….holy poop….I’m a Dad. Holy poop…that’s my son. Holy poop….I love everything about this little nugget.

This Christmas will be different for many reasons this year. In my world we are dealing with our first Christmas after my Grandpa’s passing in April and my Mom’s passing in June. There will be tears, but in God’s infinite wisdom and beautiful plan…Max came along. His ear to ear smiles, his giggles, his little belly and his chunky legs. He’s the man. I never truly understood love until I laid my eyes on my son.

That new understanding has changed a lot of things for me…especially my appreciation for Christmas.

Christmas is so much more than the lights and the presents and the carols and the cookies. Christmas is about love. Love for everyone. Love for the Jews and Palestinians, love for the police officers and those killed by police, love for the poor and love for the wealthy, love for the people of all shapes, sizes, races, genders, sexual orientation and political affiliation. It’s love for the Browns fan and the Steelers fan, love for those who believe in global warming and those who think its a load of bologna. It’s love that knows no comprehendable boundaries. It is love that escapes explanation and is bigger than our scope of understanding. It is love at all times of the day, throughout the year, when we do good and when we think bad.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Paul…I completely agree. God….thanks for sending Jesus. I will never fully understand your love for me, but seeing Max everyday….I think I am sort of getting an idea.

My prayer is that love overflows in each of your homes and in each of your hearts this Christmas season…..and in every other day for the rest of your lives as well. Merry Christmas.

-Nate

The Great Wait

Why is it so hard to wait for things?

Why do we try to avoid waiting at all possible costs?

I love Cedar Point, but I despise the lines.

I love my Cleveland Browns, but I loathe waiting to get into the stadium.

I love shopping, but I can’t stand mall traffic.

One of the reasons I love my wife is because she travels at a much slower pace. She let’s the day come to her, takes it all in stride. I am like “let’s go” “let’s rock and roll.”

For me there is too much life to experience, not enough time.

Lisa makes me appreciate the things I see and the things I experience when I just slow down and enjoy the wait.

Advent began officially last Sunday.

Rachel Held Evans, a writer and blogger describes Advent in this way….

“Advent is a season of anticipation, of holy waiting. Advent is a season for the prophets, for the dreamers, for the poets. A great light has shown, but there is still so much darkness to pierce, so much gloom to overcome. 

Advent should be a season of surprises too, of God showing up when and where we least expect Emmanuel: in a womb, in a barn, as a poor minority in an oppressive empire, at the soup kitchen, at that church service you resisted attending, in that family member with whom you disagree, in every corner of this world from Ferguson, Missouri, to Palestine, to your kitchen. It a season to slow down and pay attention, to listen to the prophets, to look for God in God’s distressing disguises.” 

Jesus’s birth was the greatest single event to ever happen in the history of our world.

It rocked the establishment.

It flipped the script.

It would have blown up the internet – much like Johnny Manziel scoring a touchdown on Sunday did.

What does Jesus’ birth mean to you? Have you ever truly thought about it?

Is it just another day that you get together with your family and open presents and sit around a tree with lights on it? Or is it more than that.

Christmas is so much more.

The prince of peace, the king of kings and the definition of love was born on Christmas Day.

There is not one single greater way that God could have shown us how much he loves us than by sending this baby to be born among the least of us in the most humbling of settings in the most plain of locales.

His life meant hope and meant a second chance and meant grace and love and joy and peace.

This advent season, this time of waiting and anticipation should be an opportunity for all of us to be that light and be that hope to those around you. God knows our world needs more of that. As our feeds are filled with stories of terrorist attacks, Ebola outbreaks, police shootings, Black Friday madness and climate related chaos….it can be overwhelming.

Maybe, just maybe…..the wait is exactly what we need. An opportunity to be stuck. Stuck waiting. And maybe while we are waiting to celebrate that holy birth, maybe we should be considering the world around us. Is it the world that God dreamed of? Is it the world where “we love our neighbors as ourselves” and the world where “justice rolls down like a river”? Is it the world where we have been good stewards of this planet, where we have cared for the injured on the roadside, where we have done right by the strangers who have sojourned into our lands?

If it’s not the world God dreamed of – what can we do this Advent season as we wait…in the words of Bryan Sirchio, to “Dream God’s Dream”? That’s what I believe the Great Wait is all about. Taking a long hard look at our own lives and lives of those around us and pledging to do more, to do better, to do something.

My hope and prayer is that each of you view this season of Advent as a time of compassion instead of a time of consumption.

Be a light in this dark world.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Be the change you wish to see in this world.

Slow down and enjoy the wait.

#merrychristmas #happyholidays #enjoythewait #gobrowns

-Nate

Ferguson

This word has become an integral part of our nation’s storyline over the past several months and came to a head this week with the announcement of the Grand Jury’s testimony that found no reason to charge Officer Darren Wilson with a crime in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

I want to hit the pause button.

I want to tell everyone to hold on.

I want civility.

I want justice…whatever that is.

I want compassion for a life lost.

I want us to acknowledge the work we still have to do around racism in our country.

I want this energy to be used to help others in need and this energy to teach us to be better than this.

I want to believe this is not the best that the greatest nation our world has ever known has to offer.

I am not a sociologist and I am not an expert on race relations and I don’t know that I have every truly experienced racism directed at me.

I did grow up in a part of Toledo that was extremely diverse and attended schools with many others of many colors and many ethnic backgrounds. I played on sports teams and ran around my neighborhood with other kids my age of all colors. It never mattered back then. What mattered was whether they could stay for one more game of home run derby, whether they could stay out until the street lights came on and whether they could play again tomorrow.

Somewhere along the way, those simplicities weren’t as simple. The real world is just that….real. It’s really tough, it’s really mean, it’s really confusing and full of opinions and conflict and history and anger. We begin associating other stereotypes with one’s skin color and we often find ourselves gravitating to those of the same skin tone. And from there…..well the rest as they is history….But unfortunately it’s not history. It’s the reality of the America we live in today.

I don’t know enough about the Ferguson case to speak intelligently about it either way. I do know that a young man of color lost his life in a run-in with a white police officer. Whatever other circumstances surround this case, that fact is going to be the one thing that is highlighted over and over.

Some of my best friends since I was kid are now police officers and some of the best people I have met over the years are African-Americans, Arabic, Hispanic and Indian people. Until we are able to look at each other as humans first and as black, white, green, purple or yellow second – we will find ourselves dealing with these same sort of incidents and fighting these same feelings.

In 1995 as I was beginning my freshman year of High School, the band DC Talk released their hit album “Jesus Freak.” On that album was another song Colored People, that gained critical acclaim. Here are the lyrics of that song:

Pardon me, your epidermis is showing, sir
I couldn’t help but note your shade of melanin
I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement
‘Cause I see the beauty in the tones of our skin

We’ve gotta come together
And thank the Maker of us all

We’re colored people, and we live in a tainted place
We’re colored people, and they call us the human race
We’ve got a history so full of mistakes
‘Cause we are colored people who depend on a Holy Grace

A piece of canvas is only the beginning for
It takes on character with every loving stroke
This thing of beauty is the passion of an Artist’s heart
By God’s design, we are a skin kaleidoscope

We’ve gotta come together
Aren’t we all human after all?

We’re colored people, and we live in a tainted place
We’re colored people, and they call us the human race
We’ve got a history so full of mistakes
‘Cause we are colored people who depend on a holy grace

Ignorance has wronged some races
And vengeance is the Lord’s
If we aspire to share this space
Repentance is the cure

Well, just a day in the shoes of a color blind man
Should make it easy for you to see
That these diverse tones do more than cover our bones
As a part of our anatomy

We’re colored people, and we live in a tainted place
We’re colored people, and they call us the human race
We’ve got a history so full of mistakes
‘Cause we are colored people who depend on a holy grace

We’re colored people, and they call us the human race
Oh, colored people
We’re colored people, and we all gotta share this space
Yeah we’ve got to come together somehow
We’re colored people, and we live in a tainted world
Red, yellow, black and white
We’re colored people, every man, woman, boy, and girl
Colored people, colored people, colored people, colored people, yeah

We are certainly a “colored people who depend on a Holy Grace.” It is my hope and prayer that we see each other as more than the “diverse tones that cover our bones” and that we find a way to “share this space.” It’s the only way.

I can’t stop the rioting in Ferguson and I can’t prevent another cop on colored teenager killing.                                                      I can be a person of acceptance, hope, grace and love. I can take our Confirmation students to the Mosque and to Imani U.C.C. and I talk about stereotypes and why they are dangerous. I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to every single person I encounter. I can work for peace and justice. I can love my neighbor as myself.

But it won’t mean a thing if it’s just me.

My prayers go out to everyone associated with the Ferguson situation and my prayers go out to our nation and our leaders as they navigate us as a country through these difficult times.

“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” -President John F. Kennedy

Peace. -Nate

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