What the Church could learn from Stars Hollow

"Honorary Gilmore Girl" Tee by Chelcey Tate Designs  

"Honorary Gilmore Girl" Tee by Chelcey Tate Designs  

I started watching Gilmore Girls, for the first time, just a couple months ago. It was during the heat of the election season, and I needed a break from everything I was reading online. So I turned to Netflix. I heard there was a new season coming out from a few of my friends who are loyal fans - so I thought, "What better time than now to start watching it from the beginning?

That was, until I realized there were 168 episodes in the entire series! And I had 60 days to finish them all in time for the new special season premiere. I'm happy to report that I finished the very last episode of the very last season, two hours before schedule! ;)

It was quite the binge. And I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone or do it ever again - but for this one time, it was worth it. And I even took away some spiritual insight from it all. Most notably, that Stars Hollow - the adorable community where, Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory live - represents a lot of what I believe the body of believers, followers of Jesus, i.e. "The Church" should look like today.

While I don't condone or agree with everything in the show - and I make sure to give that clarification so as not to imply that it is practically perfect in every way (Mary Poppins) - I do think there are underlying themes that can be relatable to the church when it comes to community. And while this may be flaunted as a bit light-hearted, given the title, this subject matter has been heavy on my heart for awhile. I needed the example of Stars Hollow to remind me of what a loving community looked like. And though it is fictional and isn't without its own flaws, I still think there are a few things the Church could learn from Stars Hollow.

1.  It was a safe haven.

Stars Hollow was the place Lorelai Gilmore ran away to live when she found out she was pregnant at 16. Her parents were notably wealthy and, in her shame of disappointing them, she found acceptance and open arms from the small town, Stars Hollow, community. Friends stood in as family during her daughter's childhood, and she was never once lacking in support. 

For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall.
— Isaiah 25:4

The Lord is described in Isaiah as a "defense for the helpless." Yet, often times people run from the church out of fear and shame. The Scripture says that the "breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall." And so should our churches be a safe haven for the outcast, neglected and condemned. Jesus said in Luke 5:31, "It is not the healthy people who need a doctor - but the sick."  Imagine if every 16 year old girl who became pregnant ran to the church for support, instead of an abortion clinic. It is my prayer that the church would be known more for how well it rescues than rejects. 

2. They sacrificed for others. 

There are so many instances when I can recall the community of Stars Hollow coming together to help someone in need. If anyone was without power or running water in their homes, you can bet there was an open room at a neighbor's house. When the local inn burned down, several families in Stars Hollow took strangers into their homes. If there was a food need, Luke or Sookie were on it. This kind of sacrificial attitude was a part of the DNA of the Stars Hollow community.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
— Acts 4:32-34

The first century church, as written about in the book of Acts, sounded a lot like the Stars Hollow community when it came to sacrificing for others. Sharing "everything they had" and having "no needy persons among them." What an example! I am humbled by this reminder as I think about Christmas approaching in just a few weeks. It is easy to become obsessed with what we don't yet have, instead of being grateful for the necessities that we do. I have to remind myself often that "poor" is more of a mindset in our country, than an actual reality. Not to deny that there are definitely people struggling to make ends meat -  but if we have the basic needs cared for (food, clothing, shelter) then we are so abundantly rich compared to many parts of the world. Being married to a pastor, I've seen first-hand how giving the church is. Yet, I've noticed that many times people are "passed off" to the church staff and dealt with as sort of a business thing - when, hey, if someone needs gas, just fill up their tank! The Scripture is so true that says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)

 

3. People were accepted, quirks and all. 

One of my favorite things about Stars Hollow, and Gilmore Girls in general, are the quirky and lovable characters! What a trip some of them can be. Ha! And yet, despite all of the annoying quirks that they each may have - they are still loved and accepted by the community for who they are. And not just accepted, but appreciated. The show doesn't shy away from showing the character's flaws, and yet, by the end of it - you can't help but love them. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
— John 13:34

This verse has been quoted all over social media, tattooed on body parts and preached from the pulpit - and yet, it is not as simple as it may seem to appear on the surface. To "love each other," especially as Christ has loved us, takes a lot of work. This means we are to love with the unconditional love of Christ. We are given the best definition of this type of love in 1 Corinthians 13. If you replace the word "love" with the action verbs of what love means in this chapter, you get something like this:

"Just as I have loved you, you should 'be patient, kind, not jealous, or boastful or proud, not dishonoring or self-seeking, not easily angered, or keeping record of wrongs, not delighting in what is evil, but rejoicing in the truth. Always protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering and never failing' |LOVE| each other."

This is what it means to truly love each other. It doesn't mean approving of everything someone does, but it does mean accepting them for who they are. This kind of love is what makes the church stand apart from the rest of the world - maybe, with the exception of, Stars Hollow. ;)

 

4. They forgave easily. 

As beautiful a community as Stars Hollow is, they are not without their bickering and arguments. In fact, it wouldn't be considered Stars Hollow without Luke and the town mayor, Taylor, getting into some sort of spat. Or Luke and Kirk. Or Luke and Lorelai, for that matter. (Luke sure is my favorite character, but definitely has a grumpy side!) But the beauty of the show, is that there is always a resolution at some point in the relationships. Even when they go without speaking for weeks - eventually, someone cracks and they move on. 

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
— Matthew 18:21-22

The humbling thing about forgiveness - is that we love being the one to receive it, but rarely enjoy being the one to give it. I'm aware that I have messed up a lot in relationships with others - I've said and done things I shouldn't and have had to ask forgiveness often. And while I regret this about myself, it has also allowed me to become a pretty forgiving person towards others. It's like I tell my husband: I get upset when he honks at a driver on the road - because I have been honked at one or two times in my lifetime and know the feeling! When we have experienced what it means to be forgiven and set free in Christ, how can we any longer hold bitterness or unforgiveness against someone else? It seems absurd to me when I hear of churches splitting or relationships ending between Christians who no longer speak to each other because of a disagreement. If there is one thing I believe the church should be known for - it's that we forgive easily. And remember Luke 7:47, "I tell you, her sins - and they are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." 

_____

One final thing I want to note about Stars Hollow, and specifically Lorelai and Rory who lived there, is that there was an obvious lack of Christian community. The only two "churches" we were introduced to were Lane's mom's strict, Korean house church, and the Catholic church where funerals and weddings were held (and loud bells that kept the community awake at night!) The church was never presented in a positive way and was often made light of in a joking manner. This didn't offend me, because I know that the Church that Jesus instituted in Scripture was never meant to be as they described.

But, it reminded me that there are many who choose not to go to church and it's not because they don't need it (because I believe at the heart of it everyone is seeking this type of unconditional and loving community), but that their experience has been a negative one or that they've already found what the church has to offer somewhere else. 

For Lorelai and Rory, it was Stars Hollow.

God can handle a Donald Trump presidency.

There was a time in my life when I would have considered myself a political 'junkie.' I watched the news and listened to talk radio, constantly. I volunteered in 2004 and 2008 with the Republican Party. And actually enjoyed it. I hugged George W. Bush at one rally and shook John McCain's hand at another (see picture to the left? That was me dressed in red, white and blue at a McCain rally in Jacksonville, FL. Just in case you needed proof of the political "junkie-level" I'm talking here). I still remember the time that I had a "very important" question to ask (regarding the support and endorsement of Mike Huckabee) and I called in to Sean Hannity's radio show and was put on the air to discuss the 2008 election season for all to hear.

Judge me if you will, but I blame a lot of that part of my life on the fact that I worked a job in a cubicle. Being cooped up like that can do crazy things to the brain. 

But the truth is, for many years I put my hope in who I wanted and believed should become president. 

Honestly, I've debated blogging about this election season for two reasons: 

1) I don't, particularly, enjoy being controversial.
2) I don't really care who wins.

Now let me explain.

First of all, it may come as a surprise to many of you that I truly DO NOT like controversy. I can understand that. I mean, I'm currently writing a post on politics and mostly everything else I write about is on my faith - and everyone knows that those two things combined is a recipe for controversy. 

But on the flip side, I am a passionate person. Particularly one who is passionate about what I believe about the gospel. That Jesus Christ is the son of God, our atonement, the Savior who came to save us from evil/darkness/sin. And if what I believe about the gospel of Jesus is true, I must speak out. 

Especially when the rest of the world is chiming in and deceiving people. (I got yo number, Satan!) 

So anyway, I hope that answers the first reason.

Now, to explain why I said "I don't really care" who wins the nomination as the Democatic/Republican candidate and eventually, the presidential election. That is not completely true, because if i didn't care AT ALL I wouldn't be taking the time to write this post. But by "I don't really care" who wins, I mean this...

My hope is NOT in who becomes the President of the United States.

Amen! Praise Jesus. If you want, you could stop reading right now. Just that one line will change your life. I promise.

But to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are still not convinced, let me put it to you this way - while this may not have been true just a few decades ago, it certainly is evident that this is the truth in 2016 - there is no longer a chance for a political candidate that could represent our country in a God-fearing, God-honoring, God-pleasing way to be elected as the President of the Unites States. In fact, they won't even get a chance at the nomination for the Republican Party. Not in this culture. Not in this day and age. Maybe, not ever again.

And please understand, I'm not saying this because I am bitter. I have no reason to be bitter. My candidate of choice has not lost, because I still don't know with certain who I'm going to vote for. 

I'm saying this because I believe it to be true. And I believe that the Bible (and Revelation, specifically) predicted it long ago. 

The problem with America (and the world, in general) does not lie in who is President of the United States. The problem with America (and the world, more importantly) lies in the heart of man

No matter what the history books say, our nation is no longer a Christian nation and we should not expect a Christian president. 

It's easy to blame the way our country and world is heading when we don't like the person in the "driver's seat." But, if you haven't noticed already, every politician is just saying what they believe people want to hear! They are trying to woo and win an audience. They are salesman. If it's not obvious to you by how many times candidates swap stances on issues, or mince words, or straight-up lie when the circumstance calls for it, then I don't know what will convince you.

You don't have to possess the gift of spiritual discernment to recognize that these men (and woman) running for office are not being completely truthful. Perhaps the one that is being the most truthful, the Trumpster himself, is actually the least presidential of them all. And by truthful, I am only speaking in the sense that he says all the dumb things without packaging it in a box of shiny, "politician" hogwash. 

There is a reason he is leading in the race for the Republican nomination and that's because people believe him. 

And maybe more than anything else, maybe more than even caring what values or plans of action the political candidates say they stand for, people just want to BELIEVE in something. In someone. 

So we may get Donald Trump as our President. Ridiculous as it sounds to write that, I am not even that concerned. Is he my choice? Hardly. But what I do know is that people are seeking authenticity. People are seeking someone who doesn't give a care about "political correctness" and is what they are. No more or less. 

I know many will say Donald Trump is far from authentic. And I'm not saying he isn't, but even the appearance of authenticity is enough for the cynics in our country. 

But in all of this I still have hope, because I believe God has a plan to use even this to draw more and more people to Himself. I mean, He planned for the fall of man, I think he can handle a Donald Trump presidency. And if you want some biblical comfort to that fact, if Trump does become president, Romans 13 says God actually placed him there. 

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
— Romans 13:1

If our world is searching for someone to believe in, someone who holds to His promises time and time again, then they look no farther than the God of the Bible. He has never failed on a promise! And even when things look dark, He promises to be with us. 

So while I agree that we should prayerfully vote and prayerfully support the candidate we believe aligns with our values the most, let us not be hopeless when the choice appears to be the lesser of evils. 

I know the end of the story, and while I'm still studying to try and understand the details, I can tell you for certain - the world isn't supposed to start looking any godlier anytime soon. We know the only One who can change the hearts of man. Let's not try and pretend a presidential candidate can do that. Or more importantly, stop that. 

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
— Psalms 146:3, 5