Pastor's Blog

A Changing Climate

A Changing Climate

Pastor Adrienne - June 10, 2024

A few years ago, I stopped watching the news. I had thought that being a grown up meant I needed to watch the 11 o’clock news before bedtime so I was informed for the next day, but eventually I stopped when I realized it was disrupting my sleep. It was upsetting! I didn’t want to hear about robberies or tragedies before bedtime!

In school, I went through a stage when I was intensely interested in what was going on in the political sphere and would leave my favorite station on to hear the endless news cycle for hours on end. I took a summer to volunteer for a congressman in North Carolina and helped in the office for a few weeks before I moved to Illinois to study community development. There I served in AmeriCorps to do my part to improve education and build civility instead of the focus to garner votes and figure out districting.

Once I went to seminary, I started with my interest in politics, but eventually shifted away from it when I started studying the arts of ministry. Today, things have devolved into a climate that is very different from the one I studied in school, and I realize how much care is needed as we try to navigate our political climate today.

I share this because I know we are in a hard time in our country, and I know, or rather, imagine, that as I feel disengaged and unsure how to navigate effectively in making our world better, perhaps you might as well. I think this is a hard and complicated time. I wish I could offer you a five step plan about how we live faithfully in this politically stressful time.

Politics is the distribution of power and resources. It has become a great source of stress and division in the past few years, and studies are showing the chronic stress it is causing. The National Library of Medicine published a study that studied the effects of the political climate on health from 2017 to 2020 that found that the increasing divisiveness of politics was taking a toll on the health of Americans. It has become a stressor as it triggers our “fight or flight” responses with few avenues and resources to help us cope.

Our Lutheran understanding does provide resources. Martin Luther described our citizenship in two kingdoms: the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God. The spiritual realm is governed by God’s grace, the gospel, and the church, focusing on faith, salvation, and spiritual matters. The temporal realm is governed by God’s law, reason, and civil authority, focusing on maintaining order, justice, and societal well-being. Luther emphasized that while these two realms are distinct, they are both under God’s sovereignty. Christians live in both kingdoms and have responsibilities in each.

This is a delicate balance. We are called to bring our faith-informed values into political action, but must be careful to not use the church to spout political agendas. Rather, we focus on the gospel, that call to love and serve the neighbor.

In my own effort to become increasingly engaged in my civic engagement, I plan to

·      Be more intentional about reading multiple sources to be politically informed.

·      Remembering how important history is in understanding today.

·      Voting

·      Praying for discernment for myself and the way I show up politically in this world.

·      Looking for meaningful ways I can engage to make a positive difference in my community.

In this politically stressful time, it is important that we take care of ourselves, and that we take care of each other. As we seek peace, justice, and unity in this divisive world, where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, he will be there.