The Royal Family

For the past week, much of the United States has been glued to the TV or to some form of social media awaiting the announcement that finally came. The royal baby is born! It’s a boy and his name is George. Prince George arrived with the same fanfare that has accompanied everything related to the royal family.  In the United States, we can’t seem to get enough news about the British monarchy. The prince has arrived not only as one of the most privileged people on the planet, but also as an instant celebrity.

Given the high level of media coverage in our world, it’s hardly possible to imagine, but suppose for a second that Prince George went missing. That he was abducted by some deluded blue collar mother to be raised as her own son. Imagine him losing all that privilege and celebrity. Suppose he grew up not knowing that he was the heir to the British throne and wealthy beyond imagination. It’s a plot device that has been used in great literature and myth for ages, from Sophocles to Shakespeare.

Imagine that he grew up not knowing who he really is, but then one day, he was discovered, and his real identity was revealed to him. How hard would it be accept that he was Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and not the hard working son of a totally unknown, impoverished and deluded mother?

I suppose it would be just as hard for him to accept that truth as it is for us.  Your real identity, the true family to which you belong, is the family of God. This world has ripped you away from your true parents and is trying to raise you to belong to it, to forget the truth implanted in your heart. You belong to God. In Christ, God came to us to convince us to abandon that false family that has taken us and tried to satisfy us with second-rate goods. You are a child of the king.

May God give long life and health to Prince George. He has already offered you abundant life in Christ…forever!

 

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church

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A Straight Path

In 1989, my wife Vicky and I uprooted ourselves from our hometown in Lee County, North Carolina and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. We moved along with our two-year-old daughter Bethany into an apartment at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin preparation for becoming a Baptist pastor.

Right away I had several serious offers to be a youth minister in churches around the Louisville area. But I knew that I wanted to be a pastor so I waited to see if an opportunity would come.

After a few months I received a phone call from Helen Demaree.  She was a member of the pastor search committee of Macedonia Baptist Church in Madison, Indiana. She asked if I would come and preach two Sundays and talk to them about becoming their pastor.

She told us that their church was a little difficult to find so she and her husband would meet us in town in Madison. We could follow them out to the church from there.

After a drive of a little more than an hour, we met at the bank in town. We followed them along a beautiful stretch of road out of town that follows the Ohio River. We drove for about seven miles before turning off onto a dirt road. We could immediately see a small church and our excitement at this new adventure was palpable.

But the Demarees drove past that little church and we followed them for seven more miles up hills and curves that seemed endless. We passed another church on the way. The road was so curvy and narrow in places that we felt like we passed ourselves on the way.

Finally we entered a clearing and drove up to a beautiful old building made of stone. We weren’t sure about what we were getting ourselves into. We had made a scary move to a new city. We had patiently waited for God to direct us to a church. We thought we had arrived when we reached Madison, but we still had a fourteen-mile trek into the wilderness to go.

We made it to Macedonia Baptist Church. We stayed for three wonderful years.

The world often looks like a long winding road that is going to a place we are not sure we want to go. We can be sure that the road will be a blessed one if we are traveling where the Lord wants us to go.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church

“Liberty and Justice for All”

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America”

I confess, it still stirs my heart to recite these words. I love the ritual too, the sing-song way we say it together, the hand held over the heart, standing at attention, looking up together at the flag.

But it’s more than the ritual. It’s the actual words – “pledge allegiance,” “one nation under God,” “liberty and justice for all” – These words stir me too. Yes, like everyone, I am aware that the United States is not always perfect. We do not always live up to these words. But to proclaim these ideals without cynicism, to say we believe in it and pledge allegiance to it is a step toward making those ideals as real as we human beings can.

So many have surrendered these ideals, given up hope and pronounced them dead. I don’t have confidence we human beings can live up to noble ideals like liberty and justice. Some individuals get close, perhaps, but eventually we all fail. Yet I still have not given up hope because the best human aspirations come from the heart of the God who created us. And God is still working to move us toward justice and truth and liberty. God has not given up on humankind, so I will not give up either.

These three very American virtues of truth, justice and liberty stand rooted in the three biblical virtues of faith, hope and love. The cynics bombard us with despair and fear. God floods us with light and hope. In every human society, even in America, these ideals will remain incomplete. But “under God” we will find real “liberty and justice for all.”

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church