Pastor’s Letter August 5, 2020
On Tuesday, the Irelan family celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday with a Zoom meeting. My brother Bob, his wife Lisa and their daughter Tess, joined in from Falls Church, VA (in the midst of Tropical Storm Isaias). My Tahoe sister Sue and her husband Gordon were in Colorado with my sister Jen. My nephew logged on in Portland, OR and my niece in Seattle, WA. Such are family gatherings these days. But in spite of the distance (or maybe because of it!) I am blessed to have a very close family. All of us get along and really do love and care for each other. Praise God!
One of the things that holds us all together is a very strong sense of civic duty, and this is something that you should know about your pastor. I have always kept up on what is going on in the world, and current events often find their way into my sermons. I just want to assure you that I come by that interest honestly.
My earliest memories are of my dad coming home from his job at the Chamber of Commerce only to head right back to a City Council or County Supervisors meeting. Meanwhile, my mom was a leader in the League of Women Voters and the local chapter of the United Nations Association, and a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Every night at the dinner table, I got served up a generous helping of national and international news along with a side of local government gossip. Naturally, I got involved in speech and debate in high school and was reading a newspaper and two weekly news magazines a week, a diet of daily news consumption that I’ve kept up ever since.
My parents’ civic responsibility got passed down to all four of their children in different ways. My brother is a high school physics teacher. My older sister has worked for a couple of different environmental organizations in Tahoe. My younger sister taught English in an inner-city Denver high school and just recently finished her MSW. And I’m a minister in the United Methodist Church where my love for Jesus compels me to work for social justice.
For me, Jesus and justice are two sides of the same coin. In my Facebook profile where it asks for my religious views, I put “Luke 4:18.” Where it asks for my political views, I typed “Luke 4:18.” That is the verse where Jesus is in his hometown synagogue quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” You could call this Jesus’ mission statement that he announced at the beginning of his ministry. I keep asking God for the grace to make it mine as well.