“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” We know the story of Chicken Little who, when struck by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling. We can understand this is a classic children’s story and something we can all relate to. When we are hit by the realities of this world – climate change, inflation, contentious issues on the ballot, rising covid 19 cases – it is easy to give into the panic and fear, to become reactive, to look for a position, a solution, an answer that will make it all better; and then become angry and defensive when people don’t see things the same way we do. At what point is the sky indeed falling and what is our call as people of faith to name these realities without giving into the fear?
On August 2nd we will be going to the polls to vote on some important issues. In Kansas that includes a constitutional amendment, potentially banning abortion. On August 8-12th the churchwide assembly gathers in Columbus, OH to make decisions regarding the direction and future of the church. How can the call and invitation to “travel the way of Jesus” make a difference in how we approach both the ballot box as well as the churchwide assembly?
Through the gospels, Jesus shows us the way. Instead of telling people what they should or should not do, what they should believe, the positions they should take, he tells stories. He tells parables that invite people into the stories, into relationships which end up challenging and changing the listeners’ perspective and understanding of how things operate in the reign of God. These parables invite us to live not in fear, reacting to what is outside our assumptions of the way things ought to be, but to live in love, to live in relationship with God’s people and God’s creation.
So, what if we approached the ballot box not simply to ban what we think is wrong or to promote our own agenda, but by asking, “How does this support and care for my neighbor? How does this decision, this vote, value the complexity and beauty of God’s diverse creation? How can our relationships guide our decisions and actions?” It is certainly messier and more complex when we approach our decision making from this perspective. Rules and positions are much easier to follow and defend while relationships are much more challenging. But traveling the way of Jesus is not about taking the easy road, it is about taking the path that continually connects us to one another.
I will admit that I am concerned about the state of our nation and the challenges the church faces. I do not believe the sky is falling but certainly the ground is shifting beneath us. That is why it is even more important for us to be grounded in the way of Jesus. We know the more excellent way – it is love. When our neighbors are struck by “challenges” falling on their heads, we stand with them so that they too know the sky is not falling but the people of God are working to, “hasten the day when peace and justice kiss and steadfast love and faithfulness meet for the sake of the world God loves.”