Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sunday Sermon July 30 2023

 The governor came to church today.  It’s good for the church when he comes, and it’s good for him when he comes, and I don’t mean politically (although that might have been a consideration.)  I can’t promise there weren’t twenty people around him praying that Jesus would remove the scales from his eyes, but I’m pretty sure he knew that was part of the job when he took it.  

There’s a lot going on in his life, including a second run for governor of Mississippi.  A little bird told me he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his reception at the Neshoba County Fair, so that might have something to do with him being butt in the pew this morning.  To my way of thinking, a candidate who is a little dissatisfied with the job he’s doing is a lot more beneficial than the guy who thinks he can do no wrong.

I like Tate.  We have a lot in common.  When he was a student, I used to talk to Matt Henry about him when they were both KAs at Millsaps.  Matt liked him too.  I wish I could talk to Matt about anything again.  A lot has changed for Tate since he left Millsaps.  A lot of his views have gone from fairly moderate to, I don’t know what to call them now.  I honestly don’t believe in my heart that Tate honestly believes in a lot of the things he’s been pushing for lately, but I think the men pulling his strings and making promises about his future career that they’ll never keep are leading him astray of his own judgment.  

I’m not the guy who’s gonna say Mississippi needs a Democratic government because, quite frankly, considering the state of the Mississippi Democratic Party right now, other than about four people, I wouldn’t trust them to organize a fish fry.  A lot of people think Presley can turn it around, but that’s an awful lot to put on one guy.  We’ve had strong Democratic governors before, but they served when there was a strong Democratic Party backing them up.  People call William Winter Mississippi’s greatest governor, and maybe he was, but he had a team of some of the sharpest guys I ever met behind him, both on his staff and in the legislature.  

With a word, Tate could do more good than I could with a year's effort.  Good for Mississippi and its people.  With just a few words, he could make huge strides in healing the schism in the United Methodist Church in Mississippi and solving the hospital crisis in Mississippi.  I don’t think that word is coming.  I think there are men with a very impractical vision of Mississippi holding carrots in front of Tate’s nose and dangling swords over his head.  Those words aren’t coming.  

Not long ago, a senior member of Tate’s party told me he thought “market forces” would solve the problem of Mississippi hospitals.  It was a moment that took my breath away a little.  I didn’t say anything, but what I wanted to say was, “Dick Wilson came to me thirty-five years ago and said you wanted to run for office, and you were a solid conservative, and I should give you a listen–which I did.  Somewhere along the way, you and some other guys changed the definition of what a conservative means, and now you’re as useless as tits on a bull when it comes to solving Mississippi’s problems.”  I didn’t say that, not because I’m a gentleman, but because I don’t think he’d listen to me, and I didn’t want to get in a fight in front of people.

After Sunday School, I thought, maybe some of us who Tate either knows or knows of should go see him with hats in hand and talk to him about what Jesus wants for Mississippi, and I don’t mean what Jesus wants for the unborn babies of Mississippi, because right now being a born baby in Mississippi can be a pretty sketchy proposition with way too high of a chance for a horrible ending, and he’s much more able to solve this than me or any of my friends.  I’m not good at begging, but I’d beg for the people of Mississippi.  I’d beg Tate Reeves to remember what he was taught at Millsaps and make choices based on what the people who are trying to live here need, not based on what some conservative talk show host says is important.  You going on Fox News isn’t going to save one malnourished baby or one heart attack victim living in an area without a hospital.  

Going to church should mean more than just going to church.  Cary was sick today, so Susannah delivered the sermon.  Her sermon was about presenting a welcoming face to the world and the good it can do.  In it, she discussed her time ministering to Aids victims at a time when most people weren’t very educated about how Aids spread, and there were few effective treatments for it.  She made the point of how powerful a simple human embrace could be for someone whose own family is afraid to hold them for fear of the disease.  She didn’t know the governor would be in the pews before her this morning.  She didn’t even know she would be preaching.  I know he heard what she was saying.  Whether it reached into his heart is between him and Jesus.

If I could talk to Tate today, I’d tell him that his heart is a lot more likely to tell him the truth than whoever is whispering they’ll send him to Washington in his ears.  Hopefully, he realizes he’s not the first guy they did this to.  Tate’s smart enough to pass comprehensive exams at Millsaps.  He’s smart enough to figure this out.  He just needs to listen to a higher power.

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