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What a small world…

I barely paid attention to the news reports last week about wildfires in Canada, until I emerged from my windowless office on Wednesday to discover our world had changed. The sky held an eerie yellow haze, the wind smelled of smoke, the sun shone with a stunning orange hue. Like many of you, when I stepped outside my throat stung, my eyes itched, my chest ached. News reports warned of unsafe air conditions. Stay inside, windows closed, air conditioning on! 911 received a rash of calls that day as people worried about a fire in their local area. Who could imagine that the smoke that blanketed our neighborhoods came from across the border? Over the next few days, the smoke from Canadian wildfires 800 miles away caused many of us to change our plans. Runners chose the gym for their workouts. Schools without air conditioning closed early. The Special Olympics scheduled to take place at Penn State last weekend were cancelled to protect the athletes. We waited, watching reports of wind currents, hoping for a shift in weather patterns that would free us from the fallout of Canadian fires. Fascinating how interconnected our world is!

A war in Ukraine- a child starves in Kenya. For the last few years, the Horn of Africa has struggled with a draught leaving their farm fields barren. In the past, Africa has looked to the ‘breadbasket of Europe’- Ukraine- for grain to carry them through dry seasons. Twenty African countries import 90% of their wheat from Ukraine. Ukrainian wheat, barley and sunflower oil provide calories to feed 400 million people worldwide. Yet, that ‘breadbasket’ is enmeshed in war. Last spring, Ukraine’s wheat rotted in silos because Russia blocked Ukrainian sea ports. This year, farmers hesitated to plant their fields, fearing Russian bombs. Ukrainian sea ports continue to be under siege, thus the fertilizer needed to nourish a strong harvest remained unattainable. Putin is using famine as a weapon of war. The UN SecretaryGeneral António Guterres stated: “Global hunger levels are at a new high. In just three years, the number of severely food insecure people has doubled, from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today.” Today a child in Kenya is starving because of war in a country over 8000 miles away. How interconnected our world is!

Early Sunday morning, a truck driver made a wrong turn… too sharp for the truck to navigate. The rig overturned. The tank of oil ruptured. The explosion and fire that followed took the life of the driver and destroyed a section of I-95. Thankfully, no cars were on the road when a section of the northbound lanes of I-95 collapsed, compromising the integrity of the adjacent southbound lanes. News reports have captured the grief of the truck driver’s family, even as reporters have described the reality that now faces many commuters. Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation commented: "This is going to be a major disruption in the region that will affect commerce along the whole Northeast corridor." Over 160,000 cars and trucks use that section of the highway every day. The disruption to commuters and to commerce will be significant. One decision, one accident, one family’s grief, yet many lives impacted. How interconnected our world is!

Canadian wildfires, a war in Ukraine, a tanker truck accident… all impact the flow and quality of our lives. How interconnected our world is! It would be easy to feel helpless, as if we are just pawns on the chessboard, our lives moved and shaped by the larger players on the board. On the macro level that’s true, we are impacted by the realities and choices happening far beyond our reach. Those realities and choices can leave us feeling like spectators, or even victims of world realities that are happening to us. Yet, God did not create us to be helpless victims of the world around us. Jesus calls us to be “salt” to season this world, and “light” to shine in the darkness. Jesus understood that the interconnectedness of this world happens on the micro level just as it does on the macro level. Imagine the ripples created when a small pebble is dropped into a pool of water, each ripple larger than the last in an expanding ring of impact. Our lives can have that same ripple affect on the world around us… a smile, a thoughtful word, a simple act of kindness can begin a chain of grace. You might think that all you have to offer is “this little light of mine,” but the light of a single candle can be seen for over a mile! Remember a poor carpenter turned Rabbi who changed the world! How interconnected our world is! Start a ripple of God’s grace today!

With you trying to impact our little place in the world,

PS: Bring a bag of groceries to church next Sunday for our Barclay food drive. Remember- Hunger does not take a summer break!
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