From the Pastor’s Desk, 7/25/22

Ice-covered streets and sidewalks are rare sights indeed in Southern California. But one winter morning it was cold enough outside to freeze water that had seeped out of a lawn irrigator. A rogue patch of ice formed on a stretch of pavement. It was perhaps the only piece of black ice ever recorded in the history of Claremont, California!

   A dear friend on her way to work, rushing along a familiar and pleasant path, discovered the slippery patch too late with her heel. She went down swiftly and all the way. Lying on her rump, the contents of her purse, her iPhone and work documents scattered around her, she had to laugh.

   Was it divine judgment or comedy that visited her? Or perhaps was that unexpected pause in her morning a sign of grace?

   –by Michael Bever in The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed

   More than likely, something that happened to you unexpectedly, catching you off guard, stirs you to express an emotion. You may cry or laugh or growl or shout or let slip an expletive. Reactions in these cases are most frequently immediate and expressed without thought. However, after a quick assessment that you are in one piece physically, the opportunity avails itself to ponder the same questions presented by Bever. Was this a judgment or a grace?

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From the Pastor’s Desk, 7/4/22

 I’m writing this column on Independence Day. I know, I’m supposed to have the day off, but since I have no specific plans for the day, I decided to get some work done. Plus, celebrating this year has less appeal than in previous years. Sure, I’m fully aware that this day is set aside as a national holiday to celebrate this country’s independence. It seems, though, that celebrating has moved in a direction more toward prideful exceptionalism. The waving of flags, the playing of patriotic songs, the chanting of U-S-A, and the fetish over fireworks seems to have sights set on this nation being better than any other.

  My intent with these comments is not to stir up anger and argument or diminish anyone’s love of country. Rather, I hope I can offer an opportunity to seriously reflect on what it means to celebrate this special day.

   In my view, celebration is not a prideful act but instead a humble one. In humility, we remember the efforts put forth to give birth to a new nation. In humility, we consider the opportunities before us to help make this nation one where people can secure independence from oppression, live in absence of fear of being rejected, and enjoy being able to express our views and thoughts without concern of facing or passing judgment. Humble celebration is more of a somber act, not throwing fists in the air but standing quietly in awe at the impact independence has placed and continues to place on us.

   This evening, sans any weather conditions to the contrary, I’ll take in the fireworks display presented by the City of Canton. By taking part as a viewer, I’m engaging in this year’s 4th of July celebration. I do so in the spirit of the preceding paragraph. I’m grateful that I live in a country that provides opportunities to move freely, to share opinions, to have choice in religious expression, and to accept responsibility for respecting and caring for others. I’ll remember as I watch the exploding sparkles that the light of this country is not to outshine any other, but to join with others to make this world a place where all can live in harmony and be assured of justice for all.      

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