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I Believe, Even When…..We Disagree

I believe, even when we disagree.

 

Here in the Christmas season – only in the second week of Advent — I am sure none of you have experienced any disagreements in your households or daily endeavors.

 

I am sure there has been all agreement on which tree to buy, where to go get the tree, what lights to put onto it and where it will go in the house. It was only one color of lights in my home growing up. All red typically until at some point it went to all white. This year, I found out last night, it went back to all red. We could not even think of multi-colors on the tree. That just wasn’t right. This now is my own statement. All White lights it is!

 

Disagreements of this sort, let’s be honest, are easy. What gifts to buy, who to buy them for, what celebrations or parties to attend, what food to create and take — well, these are all just in a day’s work.

 

What types of disagreements are more challenging for us? What types of disagreements cause blips in our faith, or struggles of a known degree or proportion that really rock our souls?

 

Joseph experienced one of these types of disagreements. The culture, the world in which he lived said, “You must abandon Mary. She is carrying another’s child. She has defiled you in the process of defiling herself. Have nothing more to do with her.”

 

Joseph, a carpenter, with customers and clients in the small town of Nazareth surely was known in that corner of the world. Taking his first wife, a young girl, we can only assume he, too, was a younger man starting his journey in the world. We watch young people decide to marry, start a family and most of us strongly recommend that they have the best start possible. Relationships, making a life together, beginning a home together, these aren’t easy tasks. Oh, they seem like wonderful jobs to do. The hope, the excitement, the future is all before them with the hope and wonder that a bright, unknown future can offer.

 

But then, a blip in the scenario occurs. Your fiancé is pregnant?! And you don’t know about it?!

 

There is too much challenge in any relationship. This is NOT the way to start a future together. The culture says, “Move away. Let go. Don’t do it. This has disaster written all over it. Stop. Turn around. Look somewhere else.”

 

Ever been there?

Have you ever found yourself staring at a culture that didn’t fit with your present beliefs? Or rather, did you find yourselves at odds with your current circles of people?

Wanting to take a job that others said did not offer enough vertical movement or advancement?

Wanting to enter a relationship with someone outside of the normative circles of Your people?

Having an opportunity to do business with a sect of enterprise with a different set of ethics or business practices?

Your heart tells you one thing while the world tells you another — This is rough place to find yourself. And, possibly even rougher, when you find yourself in a spot where you are at war with yourself — you wrestle with making a decision that might become some part of you.

Joseph, he had compassion for Mary. We can only assume he loved her, felt his heart pour out for her. But, what about his business, his family, his circle of friends, his world that could possibly come crashing down if and when he chose compassion even among all of the disagreements staring him in the face?

This week I went to British Columbia to work with a mining company. Mines tear up the earth. They either take down whole mountains taking the resource sought while leaving behind refuse piles to fill in the valleys. Or, they bore into mountainsides removing the veins of minerals while again leaving behind refuse piles.

This practice is at war with my own love of the land, love of the stark mountainsides that rise up towards the sky adorned with tall trees and offering habitats to all sorts of delightful creatures.

However, I also enjoy the ease of driving my Subaru, moving the light switch up or down and electricity magically appearing, installing a hinge that allows a door to open and close with minimal effort keeping out the elements, and I enjoy sturdy bridges and buildings well made. Electricity and steel needed for these are all made from coal and/or iron ore mined from the lands.

I was present at our last National Synod meeting when this gathering voted to resolve to speak out in opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining. This decision on many sides seems a no-brainer. Of course this is the right decision to make. Whole mountains are being blown up to pillage the coal.

Last week, the mystery of darkness, the mystery of new life that develops somehow in a womb or in the depth of the soil offered us wonder and awe if we could see past the seeming lost-ness and aloneness of the dark. How does this fit with

One company extracting coal from mountains in BC supports twelve thousand employees economically. They want their employees to create a wonderful life, sustaining, creative, supportive and truly, life giving. What would these people do without this job. A few years back I spent a month in West Virginia with the Appalachia Coal families. One young man in his late twenties said, “Tamara, all I know is running coal.”

The greater, environmental culture says, “Let it go. Find another passion. This is a doomed relationship. You will be ostracized if you stay on this track.”

Your heart says otherwise. Maybe it was an angel and maybe it made such an impression that you can’t not listen. For the voice says, believe in compassion whether there is agreement or not.

I can believe in compassion, mystery and love, even when we disagree.

Even when the world doesn’t get it, doesn’t agree, has created a different system of beliefs, what is your belief regarding compassion, mystery, God’s love, and Grace?

All the Earth is Waiting for love and compassion to be the ruling culture. We sing this hymn in both English and Spanish in solidarity with those living here among us whom we attempted to honor yesterday with our participation in the Christmas parade. Some may not agree that Christmas Tree farms are a viable economic option here. Some may not agree to hiring non-US citizens who don’t speak our language. Canadian immigration caused me to miss my own connecting flight wanting to truly understand why I, an American, was coming to Canada to do a job instead of the Canadian company hiring a fellow Canadian. I couldn’t answer this.

All the Earth is Waiting for peace and justice to find a path smooth and free of obstruction.

All the Earth is Waiting for even in our disagreements, that we might seek to believe in compassion, love and the mystery of grace. I invite you to sing together.