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Can we talk about it?

How’s the weather?...

That question has been the start of many a friendly conversation. Back in the day, talk about the weather was considered simple, polite, safe, even entertaining. How many of us have made jokes about our local meteorologist’s missed predictions about the weather? Now that they have tools like Doppler radar making their predictions more accurate, we find amusement in how dramatic they are in sharing the news. No one is more excited about blizzards and floods than a meteorologist. Farmers used to predict the weather by watching the behavior of their animals, or the turn of a leaf. Some have relied on the Farmer’s Almanac in publication since 1818. Some of us predict the weather with our joints, and once a year we look to the wisdom of that great predicter Punxsutawney Phil. But most of us now turn to the weather app on our phones to tell us what to expect. That simple information is still safe to share, but any further discussion of the weather and all the big weather events that we have been seeing lately is fraught with danger. When did weather become a political debate?

Have you noticed that a discussion about the weather now finds people taking sides, shoring up their defenses, measuring each other by their perception of the weather? Was July unbearably hot because it was July, or are we seeing significant and devastating changes in our weather that will impact us for generations to come? Are the extraordinary storms we have been seeing across the country anomalies that happen from time to time, or are they indicators of global change? Scientists agree that our earth is warming- temperatures are rising on land and sea. That fact is indisputable. The debates arise when we ask why. Are we at fault for the rise in temperature, or is this just the normal evolution of weather on earth? If we are at fault, then what should we do to correct the trend? Is there anything we can do? Are we willing to pay the cost to do something significant enough to reverse the direction of our weather? Even as I ask these questions, I know that some have already put this letter to the side, not willing to see where I might be going. I have poked the bear yet again. How many times have I been reminded that as a pastor, I should not step into politics. So, I ask again, when did weather become a political debate?

In Genesis, God gives the care of the earth and the animals into humanity’s hands (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). We are called to be stewards of all God has created- guardians and caregivers of God’s amazing garden. Right now, that garden is in danger, the inhabitants are struggling. Whether we are the cause of the problem or not, it is our God-given responsibility to be instruments of healing. That work will need all-hands-on deck, all of us pulling together to bring healing to God’s creation. Yet, our politicians are intent on using this concern to divide us. For the sake of our neighbors and for the sake of our children who will inherit the world we have created, we must ignore the power-driven sensibilities of our politicians to find a way forward together. The same can be said for many other concerns in our world today. Yet, at every turn our politicians are intent on creating division that they then use to bolster their own power base. As followers of the Prince of Peace we must choose a different path than that of our political leaders. No longer should we choose sides in a debate as if we win when our neighbor loses. No longer can we avoid conversations that seem too ‘political’, expecting that somehow the ship will right itself. Instead, we need to dedicate ourselves to a shared journey as Christian brothers and sisters, working through disagreement to God’s good way forward.

Romans chapter 12 sets before us some godly rules of engagement, that can guide our conversations and teach us how to work together toward the coming of God’s kingdom. I will leave these for your prayerful consideration:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly (and sisterly) love.” Romans 12:10. Above all we are
family, woven together by our Savior. No disagreement is worth rending the fabric of our

“Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 We are called to put the other first, to
seek the other’s best above our own. That call to humility is a mutual submission- when I
seek your best, I trust that you will seek my best. Then together we can be God’s mission of
grace and healing in our world today.

“Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:14 Last Friday, the Symphonic Winds filled
our sanctuary with rich harmonies created by 50 musicians, all sweating together on the
channel of our sanctuary. Imagine what God will do through believers who are willing to
sweat together to create harmony in our embattled community.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 It is
easy to say- ‘I am only one person, what difference can I make?’ Yet, the Bible is full of
examples of how God can work through the few to touch the many. It is time for the few to
work for peace to bless the many.

“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 What is the ‘good’
that God wants to pour through us to combat the evil we see in this world?

As God’s chosen people, we are called to be His instrument of healing in a broken world. Let’s find our identity in the Savior, not in our political affiliations. Let’s talk together, with no taboo topics. Let’s commit to working together. Let’s choose to be light and salt in our community, showing the healing way of the Redeemer. We are the mission of Jesus Christ to the world God so loves.

With you- so glad to share the journey,
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