The handling of governmental “Classified Documents” has been all over the news recently. Last summer, former President Trump’s residence in Florida was searched and “Classified Documents” were found. Then President Biden’s spokesperson announced that “Classified Documents” were discovered at his office and then at his home. Most recently former Vice-President Mike Pence made known that his lawyers came across “Classified Documents” in his possession. This prompted the National Archives to direct all former living Presidents and Vice-Presidents to search their files and libraries for “Classified Documents.”
Now, it is entirely possible that in most of these incidences the possession of “Classified Documents” was inadvertent or accidental, with no intent to hurt the United States.
While I have never viewed a “Classified Document,” I have been surprised by what I have found among my possessions.
When Sarah and I were appointed to serve the Platteville United Methodist Church, I packed up my office and found an old Methodist hymnal (one the hymnals that predated our current red hymnal). When I opened the front cover, the label stated: Property of York Chapel, The Divinity School, Duke University.
Somehow, when I was a student at Duke, I had walked off with that hymnal. Perhaps our worship leader had us march out of the chapel singing? Or, by mistake, I put the hymnal into my backpack instead of under the chair?
We had been gone from Duke for thirteen-years when I found that old hymnal. With congregations using the new United Methodist Hymnal (our red hymnal), I doubted that York Chapel had any interest in their old hymnal.
Still, this reminded me how easy it is for “stuff” that does not belong to us to end up in our possession.
As we listen to politicians and political pundits’ debate “Classified Documents,” I invite us to extend some grace. For in these days, we all need grace.
(We own all three of the United Methodist hymnals and keep them at our home office. Recently when our granddaughters were with us, Charlotte found The Faith We Sing (Black Book) and said. “I didn’t know we could take this home.”)