September 2017

     Here we are in September; this summer has really gone fast.  We stand on the edge of fall—new academic year, new Sunday School curriculum, Rally Day with church picnic, meeting new people or being reacquainted with people we haven’t seen for a while—time and life steadily goes on. 

     As I put my thoughts on paper I am feeling overwhelmed with the tragic news of unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia and North Carolina.  How will our community be impacted?  How will I participate in the conversation affecting our community and nation?  To be honest, I really don’t know.  On one hand history, whether I like it or not, is part of who we are.  On the other hand I don’t want to support injustice of any kind.  Even worse, I don’t want to stick my head in the sand and pretend we don’t have a problem.  I think we are part of the problem and the solution.  I’m just trying to understand where I fit in.

      Many will struggle to integrate the emotional fury within our larger community with the theological understanding of our faith.  The emotional fury within our nation and community cannot be separated from the life of FPC.  What we feel and think about in everyday life will be with us in Sunday School and worship, whether it’s our health issues, family dynamics, underlying forces at work or political and social complexities. Life is both a mess and a blessing.

      It is so easy to jump on the bandwagon of emotional issues and get caught up in group mentality where we say and do things that normally we would not say or do.  I need others to help me stay grounded and remember humans are basically good people.  I struggle with how to look beyond the surface of anger, unrest and violent behavior to see the pain, disappointment, and misunderstanding.  When a child acts out in our family it’s usually because of an underlying issue.  Of course the behavior needs to be addressed but if we deal with the underlying issue then there is less need for the unacceptable behavior to occur again.  The social and political dynamics, like family systems, are difficult and convoluted to understand.

      When I peel back the layers of social behavior and attitude, I am better able to remember my core value.  My core faith value is the North Star which guides me to engage and interact with others regardless of where they stand politically, socially, or religiously.  My North Star boils down to what Jesus said to the young man who asked him the greatest commandment.  Jesus said to love God with all your heart, mind and spirit and to love your neighbor as yourself.  The way I understand this is to respect God and to respect others.  While I may not agree with you I will respect who you are.  Remember in my first newsletter article I said my prayer was: “Lord help me to accept people for who you created them to be and not the way I want them to be.”  Sometimes I am able to pull this off.

      Thank you for who you are and may we continue our struggles together so others may see to whom we belong. 

Shalom,

Preston