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Pastor's Corner: Standing together

 

Last updated 10/16/2020 at 7:47am



Last week in his letter to the community, Dr. Kevin Harada, chief medical officer at Northern Montana Hospital, said this: “in this pandemic, the degree of respect we have for each other will be defined by our actions and how we choose to support and protect our neighbors.”

Amen!

Humanity to survive must overcome the addictive power of divisiveness, where I am right and I am going to prove how wrong you are. The reality is that we will not always get our way so we must learn to let go of our biases and be open to the experiences of others. We turn to the Prophet Micah and see what God desires for us, which holds steadfast even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and a grueling election year: “O People, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Do justice

Justice can be defined as doing what is right, even when, and especially when, no one is watching. Justice stems from taking a look at our own values and what we want from the people that we involve in our lives. It is so important to understand that being non-judging and living in peace with those we consider our enemies does not mean that you cannot act and behave responsibly within society. There is a time to respond, a time to speak — not with hate, anger and prejudice, but with patience and determination to let peace and love overcome. Jesus says, you who are brokenhearted, come. You who are poor, come. You who are hungry, come. You who are rejected, come. You who have no hope, come. Come, and you will be filled! This is the kind of radical acceptance that we are called to model, where everyone has a seat at the table and all voices are lifted up. This is living a life with integrity — our motives and our hearts are subjected to the will of God and we live according to His truth!

Love kindness

Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort. But loving-kindness shows great self-discipline. Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time because kindness is a sign of strength. A person shows their beauty by their acts of kindness, love, respect, honesty and loyalty. Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are OK twice if they say they are, but look like they aren’t. Be the kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back. Be the kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you. Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right. Be that person because we need more people like that in the world. We might not be able to heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, and an act of kindness.

Be humble

The tragic reality is, in our minds and thoughts, we are hard-wired to see everything from our perspective and what we believe is best for our survival and those we love. Our brains are constantly evaluating every experience and judging every thought against the expectations and standards we think are right for us and everyone else. Too often we react with anger, responding when we are frustrated and emotionally charged, scared and stressed, when it’s precisely the time to pause and pray for guidance. By doing this, we refrain from stirring up anger and causing more breakdown. I recently heard that 10 percent of conflict is due to difference, and 90 percent is due to delivery and tone of voice. People love to feel heard and understood. Being a good listener is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have, because it ensures you will be able to make connections with people. When you can listen to what other people are saying and not just wait for your turn in the conversation, you will be able to create meaningful moments between you and another person.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul urges them, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). May we get in touch with our anger and deep-seated fears so that we can become part of the solution in being transformed by love and forgiveness, and living out Jesus’ command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.’” That is the only hope that can change us by letting go and releasing the power of dividedness which can destroy us all.

——

The Rev. Maggie Lewis

First Presbyterian Church, Havre

Chinook Presbyterian Church

 

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